DTA Endorses Four For Fall

Alan Fernandes speaks in May after being sworn in surrounded by his new colleagues – Tim Taylor (right) and Gina Daleiden, Sheila Allen, and Susan Lovenburg from right to left.

The filing period for school board candidates in the fall has not even opened, but the Davis Teachers Association already has their slate of candidates set. Already there were likely to be three open seats on the school board, as the current board members Sheila Allen, Gina Daleiden and Tim Taylor, who have already been on the board for nine years, were seen as unlikely to seek reelection.

Sheila Allen announced at the end of last year that she would not seek reelection.  Instead, she ran for the Davis City Council where she finished a distant fourth in a five-person race.

Adding to the intrigue was the resignation of Nancy Peterson in early March, following the lengthy volleyball controversy. That created a new vacancy that the board would fill in early May with the appointment of Alan Fernandes. Mr. Fernandes now has to run for reelection for the two-year position.

The DTA sent out a press release on Tuesday to announce that they have selected their slate of candidates.

The Davis Teachers Association “is excited to announce that it has endorsed a slate of candidates for the DJSUD School Board election in November 2014. Barbara Archer, Mike Nolan, and Madhavi Sunder have been endorsed for the three, four-year term seats, and Alan Fernandes for the one, two-year seat. “

“Each of the candidates brings particular strengths, experiences and qualities that will serve the students and community of the DJUSD superbly,” said Blair Howard, DTA President. “The candidates also understand and value the deep connection between the educators of the district and the students they serve.”

Barbara Archer and Madhavi Sunder were finalists along with Alan Fernandes for the appointment in May. Mike Nolan ran for school board in 2010, challenging the three incumbents.

Mr. Nolan criticized the incumbents, arguing that they operated “at times like a corporate body.” An attorney, he raised four children in the Davis public schools.

The Davis Teachers Association in their release stated that they know that “each of the candidates have the relevant experience at the site and district level which will allow them to understand the broad and specific impact of potential district level decisions.”

They add, “Davis educators are confident that each of the candidates value the input of all stakeholders in district decision making and have the temperament to build trust between all the stakeholders who value the exceptional educational opportunities offered by the district. Most importantly, each of the candidates wants to do the work to focus on creating excellent educational experiences for all students. “

The process for endorsement included a committee of educators from across the district, representing a variety of experience from each level of teaching, who spent many hours interviewing prospective candidates, reading applications, and soliciting input from the educators from around the district.

At the end of the process, the committee recommended and the membership voted to approve the endorsement of the four candidates.

The Davis Teachers Association stated that they “will work to aid in supporting the election of these candidates because they are the best candidates to provide effective leadership for the Davis Joint Unified School District.”

Barbara Archer co-chaired the parcel tax committee and has been a long-time volunteer in the school district. During the appointment process, she emphasized that her years of experience “talking to parents about district issues would be a strength that I would bring to this appointment.”

“As a PTA president and Site Council member, I have spoken to literally hundreds of parents about their opinions on issues,” she stated. “As a member of the parcel tax oversight committee, I have fielded questions about the district budget and the parcel taxes. I currently am the main parent contact for email inquiries at Da Vinci Junior High. For five years, I was the main email contact for parents at Willett through PTA.”

Madhavi Sunder, a UC Davis Law Professor, emphasized her experience as an educator and teacher “who understands the pressures, fears, and academic and financial challenges of our teachers. We have lacked anyone on the Board in recent years who also works at UC Davis. I would be a strong liaison to the world-renowned university in our backyard, with which I believe we can find more productive ways to partner to obtain financial and human resources that would benefit all of our students.”

Alan Fernandes received the school board appointment over Barbara Archer and Madhavi Sunder.

What seemed to set Alan Fernandes apart from his counterparts was, first, his experience as a candidate. Clearly, he had a track record and put himself out there. Interestingly enough, he finished third behind Susan Lovenburg and Nancy Peterson.

Alan Fernandes had a good answer to the question about the complaint process, both at the interview and on the Vanguard. On the Vanguard he stated, “I am concerned that the primary focus of the process presupposes an adversarial relationship as opposed to conflict resolution. Second, I believe the use of outside contractors must be free from internal conflicts in the employment relationships between legal counsel and investigators used.”

He was asked to speak to how being endorsed by the DTA will influence how he governs. He responded, “I hope it speaks to the fact that I care about what teachers say. I think it’s really important to be a school board trustee and care about what the number one human capital resource in the district is, and that’s teachers and school employees I might add.”

He added, “I think that’s all it reflects, that I care and I want an open line of communication.”

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. SODA

    This illustrates a weakness of endorsements; why would the DTA endorse before candidates have filed?? What if an excellent candidate files, one they have no prior knowledge who might be interested….what then?
    To me, unions endorsing in this way (and using union monies for PAC advertising as we saw in the Assembly race) is problematic.

    1. Blair Howard

      DTA chose to move up its endorsement timeline because the alternative was to wait until after the filing deadline, then try to organize a process at the beginning of the school year, when teachers would rather focusing on starting the school year. If we had waited, then it is the middle of September when an endorsement comes out, and absentee ballots go out at the beginning of October. Not a lot of time to do work to get the endorsed candidates elected. All DTA expects from the endorsed candidates is that they will be themselves and that they listen to the teachers as much as any other stakeholder. Plus, anyone thinking about running should be thinking about it well before the filing deadline.

  2. Sam

    I sure would love to be able to pick the people that I get to sit down with and work out my salary and benefits. How is this not a conflict of interest?

        1. Davis Progressive

          it seems odd to me that they endorsed before two of the current members decided whether they are running for reelection. perhaps we have our answer, but i haven’t seen anything publicly to that effect.

          1. wdf1

            If they were serious about running for reelection, then it would have been ideal for them to say something before the end of the school year, and maybe earlier. Not declaring by now makes their hypothetical re-election a little more challenging.

  3. Sam

    I understand that they do not get to hand select who they negotiate the contract with, however they are free to endorse, campaign for and spend money to get these four people elected. All four of them if elected will be voting on their contract. Is my statement more accurate if I say heavily influence instead of pick?

  4. Good Government

    I don’t believe that supporting a candidate through direct contribution or independent expenditure constitutes a “conflict of interest”, even when the supporting entity stands to potentially financially benefit from the actions of a friendly candidate should he or she be elected. For better or worse, that’s how the system is designed to work. A conflict of interest occurs if the supporting entity goes outside the legal political framework and somehow financially (or otherwise) rewards a candidate or elected official.

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