Michael Villanueva / President of Hispanics for Political Action
As Latino community members we are disappointed and dismayed at the Lincoln Unified School Board (LUSD) appointment for the open trustee seat. It is our opinion the best qualified candidate was not selected.
Many factors were not considered in the selection process: education, business experience with large budgets, public sector experience and minority representation.
The LUSD Board made the appointment on January 12, 2011, among twelve candidates. Board Vice-President Van Ha To-Cowell stated the appointment was made on candidates’ response to questions at the forum, representation of a specific part of the LUSD area and community participation within LUSD.
How does this apply to appointee George Conklin?
The LUSD asked about budget cuts and the role of a board member. Conklin’s response was lacking compared to candidates Ruben Garza, David Patton, Pedro Ramirez, Eric Horton and Dwight Williams.
The second criterion claims there were no representation for the LUSD area where Conklin lives. Yet their own website and application for the Board states it is at-large bid and encompasses the entire district. This smacks closely with Black Codes of the South designed to obstruct African-Americans’ right to hold office like literacy tests, poll taxes, and other ways to discourage participation.
The third criterion was the candidate’s involvement with LUSD. Conklin only served as PTA member at LUSD. Candidate Pedro Ramirez is involved with PUENTE at Delta College and Dwight Williams is a volunteer and a pastor.
Overall, the best qualified candidates based on education, work field and response to the forum questions at the forum were David Patton, a Delta College Instructor; Dwight Williams, City of Stockton Planning Commissioner; businessman Eric Horton; Delta College Instructor Pedro Ramirez and retired Principal Ruben Garza.
As a Latino I have no issues with George Conklin —a great father who loves his community— but, is he the best qualified?
LUSD gives the impression it does not want a minority on the board. LUSD fails to recognize that its student population is 34.4 percent Latino, and African-Americans are 12 percent. It missed a historic opportunity to have a diverse board that benefits the community and all its students.
Considering all things being equal and with the lack of minority representation in LUSD one of these three minority candidates should have been appointed to the board: African-American Dwight Williams, Latino Ruben Garza or Latino Pedro Ramirez.