A second Malibu resident also waits in her bid for a seat on the Santa Monica College Board of Trustees.
By Jonathan Friedman/Assistant Editor
Malibu education activist Kathy Wisnicki remained in third place in the race for the three open seats on the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education as of midnight Tuesday. With 9.88 percent of the precincts reporting, Wisnicki had 24.47 percent of the vote. That put her behind incumbents Jose Escarce (27.58 percent) and Maria Leon-Vazquez (26.36 percent), but ahead of Ana Maria Jara, who had 21.66 percent of the vote.
Speaking on the phone shortly before midnight while watching her computer screen and waiting for more precincts to report results, Wisnicki said, “I’m optimistic, I’m just waiting, but I’m still hopeful.”
Wisnicki is the only Malibu resident running in this year’s election. Mike Jordan is currently Malibu’s lone representative on the board. He chose not to seek a second term, citing health and family issues. The board had two representatives prior to Pam Brady’s departure in 2002.
Wisnicki’s run for the board comes at a time when a group of Malibu parents called Malibu Unified School Team, or MUST, are working to create a Malibu Unified School District. Wisnicki has said during the campaign that she would support Malibu secession from the SMMUSD if it were determined to have the backing of the local residents. MUST needs to collect signatures of support from 25 percent of the Malibu voters to trigger the process toward secession, which includes approval from the state and passage in an election. The organization received a setback earlier this fall when the county disqualified thousands of signatures because it did not approve the wording of the petition. But MUST has said it is determined to start over and continue with its mission.
During the campaign, Wisnicki received endorsements from several major organizations, including Santa Monica-Malibu Classroom Teachers’ Association, Committee for Excellent Public Schools and the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce. But she was unable to get the support of the powerful political group, Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights. The organization has tremendous political influence in Santa Monica, which has more than five times as many voters as Malibu. But Wisnicki has been able to raise a great deal more money than her opponents in the campaign, allowing her to stay competitive.
Meanwhile, another Malibu resident also awaits her fate in a local election. As of midnight Tuesday with 9.88 percent of the precincts reporting, Tonja McCoy was in sixth place out of the seven candidates running for the three seats up for grabs in the Santa Monica College Board of Trustees election. The SMC Board has been without a Malibu resident for more than 10 years.
The top three vote getters at that point were Susan Aminoff with 22.65 percent of the vote, Robert Grader with 17.79 percent and incumbent Margaret Quiñones with 15.89 percent. McCoy had garnered 8.73 percent of the vote.
The SMC election comes at a controversial time for the college. Last year, the board cut eight vocational programs to address a large budget gap. The SMC faculty union said the cuts did not need to occur and made a vote of no confidence for college President Piedad Robertson and the trustees. Only one of the three trustees up for re-election, Quiñones, chose to run this year.
Reporters Lauren Walser and Damien Weaver contributed to this story.