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DOWNEY – The union representing more than 1,000 Downey teachers, counselors, and speech pathologists announced last week that it will endorse incumbents Barbara Samperi, Martha Sodetani, and Nancy Swenson in the race for school board.
After interviewing the list of candidates, Downey Education Association President Lorraine Neal says the incumbents proved to have the knowledge and commitment needed to lead the Downey Unified School District.
“We met with the candidates and asked them about Common Core, the new 2014-2015 curriculum. We asked why they were seeking this position and about their background,” said Neal. “What they think is very important to us.”
Incumbents Samperi, Swenson, and Sodetani, who ran unopposed four years ago, will each face opponents on Nov. 5 in the district’s first ever by-area school board elections.
Samperi, a 20-year board member representing Area 7, will compete in a four-way race against Downey Library Commissioner Betty Monroy, retired LA County educator Bertha Valenzuela, and local teller Leslie Valencia.
In Area 5, Swenson will compete against electrician John Anagnostou, who has two daughters enrolled in Downey schools, and Sodetani is vying for the Area 1-seat against Victor Malagon, a 50-year-old industrial maintenance electrician.
Neal, who teaches eighth-grade at Sussman Middle School, agreed that the board of education has many perennial members, but rejected the idea that anyone else running is better for the job.
“It’s not an issue. Bobbie [Samperi] is so active — if anyone wants her, she’s visible,” Neal said. “She’s knowledgeable and makes sure she’s a part of committees so she knows what’s going on.”
Select representatives from each school in the district voted for the endorsements, which favored the incumbents due to their experience and history of student advocacy, Neal said.
“They demonstrated strong commitment to the schools, parents, students, and employees,” she said. “They’re very dedicated to make sure we have the tools we need to ensure students are successful. Martha and Nancy too, they come to events and are very visible.
“We’ve had a great board the last five years — they made sure we were fiscally-solvent. Students’ needs come first,” Neal said. “They’ll make sure we have the tools we need.”
Published: Oct. 10, 2013 – Volume 12 – Issue 26