School board members unchallenged in re-election bids

DOWNEY - Three incumbents hoping to reclaim their seats on the Downey Unified School District board of education filed for reelection this month, according to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder's office. Board members Barbara Samperi, Nancy Swenson, and Martha Sodetani filed nomination papers with the county clerk on July 15, the first day for residents to declare their candidacies.

If no other Downey residents declare an intention to run before next Friday, the longtime incumbent board members will each serve another four-year term on the school board.

The Nov. 5 election is the first since board members chose to forego at-large elections in favor of a seven-district, by-area voting system. The board of education approved the change last August after concerns arose regarding the California Voter's Rights Act of 2002, which encourages the dismantlement of at-large elections in communities where they can potentially disenfranchise minority voters.

If unopposed this year, it wouldn't be the first time for these board members, who had no opponents four years ago.

Actively involved in the Downey PTA for years, Samperi, who has been on the board since 1993, represents Area 7, the district's most southern area, which extends from Imperial Highway beyond the I-105 Freeway and over to the intersection of Woodruff and Rosecrans avenues.

Swenson, a 20-year employee of Raytheon and DUSD board member since 2005, represents Area 5, the district's central area that swings from just north of Firestone Boulevard to Gardendale Street. Sodetani, past president of the Assistance League of Downey and school board member since 2005, represents Area 1, which is the most northern area with Telegraph Road in the north, the Rio Hondo River on the west, Paramount Boulevard on the east, and Fifth Street in the south.

Before approving the switch to by-district elections, the board made slight variations to the seven trustee areas to better reflect population and meet state requirements.

According to a school district analysis report, each of the seven trustee areas incorporate an average of 17,000 people, adding up to more than 121,000 residents who live within the Downey Unified School District, which consists mostly of a large Hispanic population.

The last day to enter the race for the DUSD board of education is Friday, Aug. 9 at 5 p.m.

********** Published: Aug. 1, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 16