Ridley, Rhee, LaSota Emerge Victorious

Written by MARGARET THI / Published November 10, 2007

The ballots are in and the School Board election campaign season has come to an end. Three political newcomers, Robert (Bob) Ridley, Janet Rhee, and Rachel LaSota, have emerged victorious in the November 7, 2007 election.

Of the six candidates, it was Ridley who obtained an outstanding lead with 1332 votes. Rhee and LaSota followed with 1221 votes and 1057 votes, respectively.

The three teachers-endorsed candidates ran as a slate, defeating incumbent Robert McKendrick, former City Councilmember Dan Arrighi, and former Temple City School Board member Joan Vizcarra.

McKendrick, who will serve out his term in December 2007, was in fifth place behind former Councilmember Dan Arrighi.

“Although the major media did not portray it, this was a very controversial and a rarely contested election,” stated Matthew Wong, a Temple City resident and political science major at UC Davis.

Despite major endorsements from both Assemblymember Anthony Portantino and State Senator Jack Scott, former Councilmember Arrighi and former Temple City Board member Joan Vizcarra did not win seats on the School Board. Both Portantino and Scott chair the Education committees in the state legislature.

Endorsements may also strain relations between the City and the School District. The candidates who lost won endorsements from Mayor Judy Wong and Councilmember Fernando Vizcarra.

Tensions may emerge between Board member Matt Smith and the new School Board members. Smith endorsed McKendrick, Arrighi, and Vizcarra in the election.

Board Vice-President Joe Walker, elected in 2005 with Smith, endorsed Ridley, Rhee, and LaSota.

Both Smith and Walker wrote letters to the editors asking voters to support their candidates just a few days before the election.

The Temple City Unified School District is well known throughout the region for its high-performing schools. In recent years, Temple City High School obtained an API (Academic Performance Index) score of above 800.

This summer, a TCUSD student Deandre Netter was killed on Golden West Avenue. The new School Board members will most likely tackle the issue when they take their seats in December.

In addition to Netter’s death, the Temple City High School has had plenty of administrative turnovers. Before the new school year began, several deans and a principal moved to other districts or retired. In recent weeks, newly hired assistant principal Michelle David resigned her position at Temple City High School.

According to the Los Angeles Country Registrar of Voters, the official voter turnout in Los Angeles Country was 12.29%. Voter turnout among Temple City residents was 7.87%.

In the Temple City Unified School District, voter turnout was 14.64%. 2200 out of 15, 028 eligible voters casted ballots in the School Board race.

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