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School Board A Political Stepping Stone For Tuesday’s Winners


There were plenty of school board candidates for voters to pick from on Tuesday, but they also chose former school board members for higher office.

— On Tuesday, San Diego Unified’s Board of Education President John Lee Evans beat out challenger Mark Powell to retain his seat and Trustee Richard Barrera was unopposed in his re-election bid.

Newcomer Marne Foster said her election by a wide margin tells her that voters agreed with her campaign message "that it is going to take community -- businesses, families, faith-based organizations -– all working together to make sure that children have a bright future.”

Voters elected candidates to board of education seats across the county, but they also put former schools trustees in office. Mayor-Elect Bob Filner, Congresswoman Susan Davis and Assembly Member-Elect Shirley Weber are alumni of San Diego Unified’s board.

In his research into campaign finance for local elections, Brian Adams, a San Diego State University political science professor, said he’s seen many political careers that started on school boards. He said it's an office that requires little prior experience or significant funding.

“And, it’s actually good, not just for the experience -- of where you can say when you run for city council, ‘I have this experience sitting on a school board,’" he said "but it’s actually just good for finding political allies, developing a base of potential donors.”

School boards may not be high profile, or high paying, he said, but they have been a tried and true stepping stone to higher office. Even Gov. Jerry Brown got his political start in education governance as a member of the Los Angeles Community College Board of Trustees

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