Orange County Breeze does not endorse political candidates, even (or maybe especially) in local elections for our core communities. Because of my own activity in covering the local news, I come to know local incumbents. For the most part, these local candidates have the best interests of their community at heart. Further, while in charity granting a similar large-heartedness to a challenger, it is unlikely that I know a challenger as well as I know the incumbent.
It would be hard to write an unbiased article.
That said, I will admit that on Tuesday I will personally vote for Mari Barke for Orange County School Board, District 2.
Transparency requires me to say that I have had frequent interaction with Mari Barke for years. She is warm, invested in her communities, with a lively intellect, a positive outlook, and a great sense of humor. For years her family owned and ran Duke & Duchess on Walker St. just south of Lincoln Ave. in Cypress.
When talking with her, or reading her campaign materials, she not only shows a command of the issues, she understands the people behind those issues and their struggles. She has insisted on maintaining a positive campaign in the face of irregular, threatening, and downright inept tactics employed by the incumbent, as described by Matthew Cunningham at OC Daily.
During our chat for this article, Mari Barke explained that she decided to run partly based on watching the movie Waiting for Superman, a documentary on the state of education in America today:
She wants to be an advocate for children and families, to give them access to great schools and options like free public charter schools. (One example of a free public charter school she mentioned is Orange County High School of the Arts.) She wants to keep school kids in their own neighborhoods in great schools with great teachers. She wants handling of the OCDE’s $200 million annual budget to be transparent. Although she will be elected by voters in District 2, she promises to oversee the Department as a whole — all five Districts.
Orange County has a lagged behind neighboring counties in the number of charters schools and the board is in need of unwavering advocates for educational choice. Barke is that advocate.
She is endorsed by the California Charter Schools Association Advocates as well as Register-endorsed Trustees Ken Williams and Linda Lindholm. While being a champion for both traditional and charter school options, she also holds a degree in finance and told us she would make fiscal responsibility a priority. That’s much needed in government.
In weighing her qualifications against that of the incumbent, David L. Boyd, I felt that Mr. Boyd stressed his formal qualifications for the position — for instance, earning a “Master of Governance” certificate — in contrast to the challenges faced by the people he represents. His charitable involvements are insulated from those being helped, as a “Platinum Circle donor” or a board member. Regarding charter schools, the same article that endorsed his opponent gave Boyd’s own description of his approach to charter schools as “legalistic” — distant and disinterested, in other words.
Map of Orange County School Board Districts
The graphic below is courtesy of the Orange County Department of Education.