By definition, elections for city council and school board in just about every city in Orange County are technically “non-partisan” while the campaigns for each office clearly are not. The Rs and Ds are very easy to spot. This year’s race for Irvine Unified School Board is easily the county’s most non-partisan. There are times when a candidate who truly embodies the spirit of non-partisanship for office with qualifications are practically unmatched runs for office. There is such a candidate this year and, for me, this is the easiest endorsement I could ever give is to encourage voters in Irvine to elect my friend Lauren Brooks for Irvine Unified School Board.
Lauren is a Republican. And I endorse her enthusiastically. Because quite simply, education is non-partisan. You’re either pro-education or not. And Lauren is pro-education.
I have known Lauren for all but the first three months I have lived in Irvine. I’ve had the privilege of coaching both of her sons in AYSO soccer and in Little League baseball, coaching alongside her husband, Greg. It was Greg who helped get my son into organized hockey for a time. I served on the Sierra Vista Middle School PTSA board with Lauren in a legislative action capacity. Lauren is a former executive with Addidas and her management experience showed then and shows now. She ran those PTSA meetings like a business meeting with rigid agendas that she managed to keep on topic, on time and on target. Petty politics were not tolerated. She keep notes on everything. They were exceptionally productive meetings.
Lauren is a long-time volunteer in more school groups than I can count. She is often the first parent to step up. She’s probably attended more school board meetings than some of the current crop of trustees (of which, she has been endorsed by every member of the current school board), and certainly spent more time in school board meetings than the vast majority of candidates who oppose her. She is currently a volunteer executive board member for the Irvine Public Schools Foundation.
Lauren is a problem solver. She’s effective and efficient. When my son was having trouble in elementary school and was diagnosed with a hearing loss, it was Lauren who knew the ins and outs of state law and what forms to ask of the district to apply for help he was eligible for and what questions to ask in order to get him the help he needed. The district offered this information but not in any form that was particularly helpful. Lauren helped us cut the red tape and made it easy. Notice a trend yet?
Yes, Lauren is a Republican when it comes to being fiscally conservative. I’d say she’s socially liberal on a number of issues, so much so that I had always thought of her as a Democrat. When it comes to public education, Lauren is a partisan pro-student, pro-parent, and pro-teacher with no “R” or “D” next to her name. With her stance on education, there is no Democrat, there is no Republican, there is no Liberal, and there is no Conservative. With Lauren, there is only the goal of providing an outstanding education for each student and helping families and teachers work together better to overcome problems.
Lauren recognizes each student is different, just like teachers do. She is constantly working with teachers and parents about what’s working and what isn’t. She attends conferences and events to better understand issues and seek new ideas, as well as share ones she knows work in Irvine. Win or lose, Lauren is a fixture at IUSD meetings. But she belongs on the dias not in the seats reserved for the public. In my opinion, she is one of the best candidates for elective office in Orange County this year. There certainly isn’t a better Republican running for office anywhere.
Vote for Lauren Brooks for IUSD. She’s amazing.
While this post is about Lauren, the other two candidates I support for IUSD are Paul Bokota and Carolyn Inmon.
I’ve known Paul for several years. He narrowly missed out on being appointed to the school board in 2004 when Gavin Huntley-Fenner got the nod (and Gavin has been a terrific school trustee in Irvine). We also know each other from the soccer field as one of his daughters is a year younger than mine.
Paul is a lawyer and a good one. He’s honest to his core and is one of those candidates who will fight for every family, not just his own. Having a good lawyer on the school board would certainly be an asset to the district and the district’s interactions with the state and the city of Irvine. I was proud to encourage the endorsement of Paul’s candidacy to the DPOC and pleased he received the endorsement. Paul has a lot of ideas about moving the district forward and reaching out to work together with fellow trustees, those who represent Irvine in the State Assembly and State Senate as well as the City Council. I’ve also had the pleasure of working with Paul’s wife, Wendy, on IPSF. The Bokota’s are fearless advocates for education; Wendy actually planted her kids at the Red Robin in Santa Ana in 2005 in order to confront Governor Schwarzenegger over proposed cuts to education in the 2005 special election. And she did put the Terminator on the spot, asking him to “help teach her kids a lesson on keeping promises.” I think the bigger lessons that kids took away is it doesn’t matter how big a politician (or movie star) you are, that the Bokotas will hold you accountable for your promises.
Additionally, I’m backing Carolyn Inmon for the third seat. Carolyn is a former IUSD teacher and was one of the organizers behind Irvine’s Save Our Schools Measure BB initiative. She brings tremendous experience to the table and will be able to help trustees understand how policies they support will directly impact the classroom from the teacher to the student. In the middle of the meat of the campaign, Carolyn took a few days off to welcome a new addition to her family — a grandchild. It shows her priorities are rooted in family values and not partisan politics.
The common thread here with all three candidates is a commitment to a quality education, respect for all the stakeholders that help a child not only score well on standardized test but actually being able to learn and think, and they treat education as a lifelong process.