Malibu’s sole resident running for Santa Monica-Malibu school board is encouraging a block vote for her and three like-minded running mates. Stacy Rouse already has hearty backing from current board member Craig Foster. As Foster is not running for reelection, he and Malibu residents who want to keep a Malibu voice on the Santa Monica majority board are advocating for Rouse and three other candidates, who, although reside in Santa Monica, have an agreed upon platform.
“This time, with four seats open and four people who agree on collaborative planning and hearing new voices, it’s a real chance to shift the makeup and have more access,” said candidate Rouse.
“We’re all supporting each other,” she added about fellow candidates Angela DiGaetano, Esther Hickman, and Miles Warner. “By Malibu throwing support behind the four of us, in turn, they’ll share my name in Santa Monica; we’ll put the focus on kids in a new way.”
Rouse and her slate are challenging two incumbents, Laurie Lieberman running for her fourth term, and Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein, running for his third term.
Beating incumbents typically is a “high wall to get over,” said Foster, as are candidates endorsed by the powerful special interest group Santa Monica For Renters’ Rights because of the high percentage of renters in the city.
Rouse assured that DiGaetano, Hickman, and Warner will provide a voice for Malibu families.
“All of us do agree that Malibu separation is important. They all back it. They are fully supportive. But also, our concerns are their concerns. We share that we want the separation and want it to not disadvantage any of the students in our district.”
Two of the candidates also have Malibu ties. Hickman grew up in Malibu, attending Juan Cabrillo Elementary and Malibu Park Junior High, but then attended Santa Monica High School since Malibu High was yet in existence. One of Warner’s children recently attended Webster Elementary, and “he loved his neighbors and the school. They both have a unique understanding of both cities,” Rouse said. “It is a really good partnership and a really good way to model collaboration.”
Foster commented, “I worked hard to do the right thing by every child in the school district in Santa Monica and in Malibu, and I worked extremely hard to move forward the idea that Santa Monica and Malibu would both be better off with their own school districts. I fully expect that all of the folks running with Stacy, including Stacy, will do both of those things. These folks are absolutely committed to moving forward on 21st-century, student-centered education. They’re not tied into the existing political structure. They’re committed to giving the Malibu Santa Monica conversation an entirely fair hearing, and that will lead to inevitably two different school districts. I am very comfortable that aligning with these folks is absolutely the best way to get Malibu Santa Monica schools the best they can because make no mistake; these schools can be way better than they are today. It’s also the best way for Malibu and Santa Monica to get independent school districts because that’s the right thing to do. Anybody not tied into the existing political structures will see that. It’s very clear from conversations with all three that they’re clear on that too.”
This November, every voter has four votes for the school board because four seats of seven are available, but voters can only vote once per candidate.
“We’re supporting each other. We don’t have the advantage of incumbency, so we’re sharing resources. We support more open communication, working together with teachers and the public, especially with parents and families,” Rouse explained.
Foster encouraged getting out the vote, saying, “The most important thing is that we need every voter in Malibu and any friends they might have in Santa Monica to vote for these four people.” He encouraged voters who are also voting for city council to go down the ballot and don’t forget school board candidates. “That’s how we demonstrate our voice and our power in this election. Having four people collaborating to bring new ideas to the school district is great. They want to elevate the school district and refocus it on the needs of the students.”