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On Thursday Sept. 13, the Saugus Teachers Association and the California School Employees Association teamed up to host the Saugus Union School District Board Trustee Candidate Forum, moderated by Special Education Resource Specialist Sandy Belanger.

The seven candidates were each given one minute of response time to answer the seven questions posed by Belanger.

In attendance was current SUSD Board President and Area 5 incumbent Christopher Trunkey, a finance officer for the motion picture industry. Trunkey spoke about funding, how critical it is to secure the right amount and whether it should be tied to student attendance.

Trunkey’s challenger, Sharlene Duzick, Director of HMNMH Fitness & Health member services, was also in attendance. Duzick mentioned more than once the need for greater cooperation between the school board and private sector partnerships.


Trustee Area 2 incumbent Judy Umeck, Admissions Director at private Providence High School in Burbank, impressed upon the audience that, after 23 years on the School Board, she doesn’t think her job is done yet. The entire community is a stakeholder, and there are bond measures that she would like the chance to see through, Umeck said.

By contrast, Trustee Area 2 challenger Laura Arrowsmith, a history teacher, focused on teachers and students. Arrowsmith emphasized that students ought to be granted greater importance as stakeholders since they are the primary motivation for everything the school board does.

Arrowsmith, being a teacher herself, also focused on teachers’ perspectives in the classroom. “Teachers know exactly what they need in the classroom to reach those kids they have,” Arrowsmith said.

The three candidates for Trustee Area 1, the only open seat, all said that engaging stakeholders and getting people to work together was a primary role of a trustee. Each touted their own special skills and abilities in engaging those stakeholders.

Jesus Henao, U.S. Marines veteran and commercial real estate investment broker, contended that focusing on technology would be key to engaging stakeholders.

David Barlavi, local attorney and American Youth Soccer Organization coach, stated that he intends to use a combination of his interpersonal skills and technology to bring stakeholders together.

Marketing manager at Scorpion Internet Marketing Evan Patlian asserted that he would be better able to engage stakeholders because he, being one of the younger candidates, more accurately reflects current stakeholders.

Echoing other candidates, Patlian was adamant about continuing lobbying efforts on behalf of the district’s students. “[We can] not accept no as an answer,” Patlian said.



Disclosure: David Barlavi is a donor to Radio Free Santa Clarita.

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Saugus school board candidates discuss district's issues
Article Name
Saugus school board candidates discuss district's issues
On Thursday night, candidates for the Saugus school board discussed district issues such as funding, special education and public-private partnerships.
Publisher Name
The Santa Clarita Valley Proclaimer
Gretchen Zovak

Gretchen Zovak is a veteran living in the Santa Clarita Valley.

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