Malibu school board candidate emerges

Patrick Cady is a longtime teacher with the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. He is competing for one of four seats on the Board of Education.

By Jonathan Friedman / The Malibu Times

Unlike in 2008, Malibu voters this year at least will have the opportunity to vote for a local resident in the Board of Education election. Former Santa Monica High School teacher and coach Patrick Cady, a 34-year resident of Latigo Canyon, plans to compete for one of the four seats up for grabs on the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s governing body. Cady, 63, admits he does not have the same recognition other education activists have in this city, but he said this would change as the campaign progresses toward the Nov. 2 election.

Two years ago, Kathy Wisnicki declined to run for a second term and no other Malibu resident chose to compete in that year’s school board race. When Wisnicki’s term concluded in 2008, Malibu was left without a board member for the first time in nearly three decades. It appeared this would remain the situation for at least another two years as 2010 moved along and no announcement was made of a Malibu candidate. Then last week when the opportunity came for potential candidates to pull papers to begin the official campaign process, Cady was among those who took that step.

“I taught for 34 years and one of the things I tried to get my kiddos to know is that you have got to give back to your community,” Cady said. “I have worked for the school district all these years and I figured [serving on the school board] was the way to give back to all the people that I’ve taught and all their families.”

Cady began his teaching career in social studies and math at Santa Monica Alternative School House, or SMASH. He remained there for eight years, and then transferred to Santa Monica High. Cady later became the head track and field coach. He retired in 2008, but still remains active at Santa Monica High as a volunteer coach and by assisting at one of the “house schools.”

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Cady’s wife, Linda, was a teacher in the district for 37 years. She began her career at Malibu Park Junior High School and later came to John Adams Middle School in Santa Monica. The couple has one daughter, Kristin, who is an SMMUSD alumna. She lives in the Portland, Ore. with her husband and their baby daughter Kayla.

Cady said because of his experience with both communities, he could bridge the rift between Malibu and Santa Monica. He said he sees the two cities as “one beach community.”

“We all live together in this beach community,” Cady said. “It hurts me to think that people don’t see that connection that I see just because I’ve been here for so long. So I want to bring that perspective. I feel that we owe it to each other to support each other. And we have the sense that we’re stealing from each other. I’ve never felt that way.”

Many people in Malibu think of the SMMUSD as a Santa Monica organization that considers Malibu an afterthought. Because of this, there is some sentiment that a Malibu school district should be formed, or at least that the feasibility of the concept should be studied. Cady would not take an official position on this, but he said, “I think together we can offer a heck of a lot better schooling than we do separately.”

“I think it would create two districts that are not as strong as they are as one,” Cady said. “I think together we are stronger and bring tremendous resources together.”

Although Cady is well-known among the people who have gone through Santa Monica High Schools and their families, his name does not have much recognition among Malibu education activists. Most who were questioned by The Malibu Times either did not recognize his name or knew little about him. City Councilmember Laura Rosenthal, who has said it is essential there be a Malibu resident on the board, said somebody is organizing a meeting to introduce Cady to the Malibu education activists.

Wendy Sidley, president of the Malibu High School PTA, said she has never met Cady, but she likes what she has heard about him.

“I like that he was a teacher and I have been told he is a great guy,” Sidley said. “We absolutely need somebody from Malibu on the school board.”

Sidley said it is not the fault of the seven Santa Monica residents on the board, but they are unable to fully understand what Malibu’s needs are because they are not in the community on a daily basis so they do not get to hear from Malibu residents like they hear from fellow Santa Monicans. Sidley said if Cady is not elected, she wants to explore ways to make it mandatory for a Malibu resident to be on the board, whether it be somebody who gets to vote or just an honorary position that allows a Malibu voice to be heard on the dais.

Cady said he looks forward to meeting the Malibu education activists he has not met, and he said his name recognition will rise in this city as he “moves from being a known teacher to being a candidate.”

He will face at least five other candidates in the race for four seats. They include incumbents Oscar de la Torre, Ralph Mechur and Barry Snell, as well as challengers Laurie Lieberman, Nimish Patel and Chris Bley. Hollywood producer Jake Wachtel might run, but he is also considering entering the race for a seat on the Santa Monica College Board of Trustees. A spokesperson from the Santa Monica City Clerk’s Office said he cannot compete in both races.

Board member Kelly Pye had earlier stated she would run for reelection. But she recently decided not to do this so she could spend more time with her children.

Candidates have until Aug. 6 to file their nomination papers at Santa Monica City Hall with 100 signatures from registered district voters. Potential candidates can pull papers until this time.

Cady will have the added challenge of running without the endorsement of Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights, or SMRR, the powerful political group that endorsed the candidacies of all seven board members. Cady said he did not submit his name as a potential endorsee prior to the July 10 deadline because he was unaware of the deadline. The SMRR endorsement is considered important because many people in Santa Monica loyally vote for the “SMRR slate.” Also, SMRR has a great deal of money to put up for its candidates. The SMRR endorsement convention will take place on Aug. 1.

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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