On Friday night, Cindy Pickett became the first candidate to formally announce her candidacy for the Davis School Board.
Ms. Pickett was introduced by sitting school board member Bob Poppenga. He explained that, following the 2016 election, when he was seated on the school board, Cindy Pickett told him “it was time to get involved and make a difference.” He said, “I can’t think of a better way to make (a difference) in a local community than be on a school board. I personally think that is the most important elected office there is.”
He told Ms. Pickett, “I think your skill set fits beautifully with your background in social psychology.”
“Public education in California and nationally has been challenged for a long period of time and it really takes some very creative and bright people to help overcome those challenges. I’m looking forward to you helping overcome those challenges,” he said.
Cindy Pickett told the group that she had been at Celebrate Davis and was asked the question many times – why are you running for school board?
She explained, “It’s a matter of finally being able to have the ability to put into action a lot of the things I have been hearing from other parents, people in the community who are really concerned.
“Today we had another school shooting. I’ve been part of a group called Davis Parents For Gun Safety and when I see the comments and the dialogue that goes on, there’s a real fear and desire to make schools more safe.”
“The question is how do we do that?” she asked. “It’s not an easy thing to do. Building bigger fences, locking doors, there are some things that are at our disposal to do, but is that actually going to make things safer? That’s something where I would like to be able to take the ideas and really work on them. And be part of the group that gets to make these decisions.”
Ms. Pickett said, “For me it’s really about being in a position to be able to effect change.”
The second question that she gets is “why education?”
She explained that in her family there were five kids, and “this was the route to success.” She explained that her mother was one of 12 kids growing up in the Philippines. She grew up “really poor” and “came to America to get a great education.
“That’s part of California. The California mission of allowing kids no matter their background, to achieve that, to have those opportunities and meet their potential,” she said. “That is something else that is really great about our school district.”
One issue that she brought up is that, coming to school board meetings, she sees the board members sitting at the dais being unable to interact with the public. She believes this creates a line of separation.
“That’s one thing that we really have to break down, so that people don’t come to the school board angry because they’ve been shut down or feel like they’re not going to be heard,” she said. She hopes that they can change the way they do things so that even if the members of the public don’t get what they want, “they feel like they have been heard.”
In her release, she mentions among her top concerns: ensuring school safety, improving school climate, increasing the availability of school counselors, and reducing the achievement gap.
She said: “I recognize that these are issues that the school district has been working on for a while. With dedication, persistence, and a data-driven approach, I believe I can help our schools effectively tackle these issues. As a university administrator, I have experience bringing parties together to address difficult topics. Promoting mutual respect, building trust, and truly listening to others has proven to be a successful recipe for achieving solutions that lead to measurable change.”
Cindy Pickett is the parent of two children in the Davis Joint Unified School District, a 9-year-old son who attends Birch Lane Elementary and a 12-year-old daughter at North Davis Elementary.
She has served in several volunteer leadership roles in the district, including President of the Montessori Parent Advisory Committee and member of the Superintendent’s Parent Advisory Committee. She currently serves on the district’s Parcel Tax Oversight Committee and on the executive board of the Davis Montessori Education Foundation.
There will be three seats up for election in November. Already, Madhavi Sunder has announced she is moving to Washington, DC, to take a position at Georgetown Law School and will not seek reelection and may vacate her seat early.
—David M. Greenwald reporting