July 5, 2020
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Photos courtesy of Elect Jeff Martin, Committee To Re-Elect Joe Messina and Trunkey for Hart School Board.

On Tuesday, Nov. 6, Saugus voters will decide who will represent them on the William S. Hart Union High School District Board of Trustees. Three candidates are on the ballot for Trustee Area 5: Jeff Martin, Kelly Trunkey and incumbent Joe Messina.

Martin is a somewhat unconventional candidate. When he’s not frequenting Santa Clarita City Council meetings, Martin is an anti-bullying and special needs advocate, has been involved in the American and Youth Soccer Organization for over 20 years and has a first degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Martin’s candidacy for school board is essentially a continuation of his current work with local youth.

Trunkey first announced her candidacy at the May 24, 2018 Democratic Alliance for Action meeting. The Democratic club has since endorsed her. As a mother, a businesswoman and the wife of the current Saugus Union School District Governing Board president, Trunkey wanted to offer voters an alternative to the incumbent. 

Messina has served on the governing board for nine years and is also the host of nationally-syndicated radio show The Real Side with Joe Messina. Messina is endorsed by Rep. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale), Sen. Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita), Assemblymember Dante Acosta (R-Valencia) and all five current members of the Santa Clarita City Council, according to his campaign website.

The self-described “agitator” previously drew criticism for social media posts and comments on his radio show that some community members deemed racist, homophobic and xenophobic, the Santa Clarita Gazette reported. With the growth of The Real Side, Messina has become a lightning rod for both praise and condemnation of his views. Today, Facebook took down The Real Side’s Facebook page, a move that Conservative Action Group has decried as “censorship.”

With Messina up for re-election, the race in Trustee Area 5 could turn out to be a referendum on his controversial behavior — or reveal continued community support for the longtime officeholder.

Messina, Martin and Trunkey were interviewed by The Proclaimer about their accomplishments, qualifications and visions for the future of the Hart District.

Joe Messina

Why are you running for re-election?

Simply put, education moves a lot slower than I knew. CTE (Career Technical Education) is my passion. I felt it was lacking and had almost gone away by the time I was elected. Lots of work and dedication have gone into rebuilding CTE. We now have almost 30 pathways where students can get a certificate listing what they have learned, what they are trained on and can actually enter the workforce in those areas. There is still a little more to do. I would like an opportunity to finish.

Why should voters re-elect you to the Hart Board?

I’ve proven myself to be a hard worker and as evidenced by the teachers’ union endorsement, — one I was never able to get — they have seen that I am willing to put politics and personal feelings aside to get the job done, to help and implement programs that are needed in our community. Hart to Home is a program I pushed for that would allow kids who wanted to pursue their careers or had family obligation be able to take classes from home or be “home schooled” with district supervision. I have a few manufacturers I’m working with to bring more donated equipment in to the high school to further enhance our CTE programs. I have been the driving force behind rebuilding these and need more time to finish

Are there certain issues you are passionate about or would like to focus on?

As I said above, CTE. More options for education solutions. Security, technology, — these are all areas I focus on and have worked with staff and outside sources to rebuild and strengthen.

Do you have accomplishments or proud moments you’d like readers to know?

Yes, CTE, specifically the 30 programs. The fact that now over 80 percent of our students have been introduced to some kind of career technical education. Yes, Hart to Home, the program that allows kids to really pursue their passions or family obligations while being part of the district. If you mean outside the district then yes, I also work with a few nonprofits feeding homeless families, helping young men who may be fatherless and working with the senior center to make sure they have their technology needs met. There are more things I’m involved with, but I don’t do them to publicize them.

There’s been some reactions to your podcast and certain posts you’ve shared. Is there anything you’d like to clarify to readers about your podcast and involvement outside of the Hart District?

I have no comments on my radio show. We are on 48 stations across the country. All the comments about the radio show and posts to Facebook have been made and explained over and over again and depending on what side of the aisle you’re on dictates whether you believe them or not.

Jeff Martin

What motivated you to run for school board?

I was inspired by city council candidate Sean Weber as he continues to take on the city establishment. After being inspired by Mr. Weber and with the encouragement of the parents of our community, I decided to run for William S. Hart Union High School Board District 5.

What differentiates you from other candidates in the race?

I’m not owned by campaign contributors. The Castaic High School contracts were awarded circumventing the competitive bidding process to Board members’ campaign contributor. I also have a strong background in technology and security which is lacking on the Hart board.

Are there certain issues you are passionate about or would like to focus on?

I’m motivated to create an atmosphere of inclusivity which is currently lacking in our schools and Board. Some of the Board members participate in bullying type behavior between each other and towards the students, which is unacceptable.

I also intend to focus on how security and safety funds are allocated. An example is the purchase of cheap security cameras that were installed too low, and ended up being damaged and stolen. Last year, a catastrophic incident was avoided in spite of the Boards refusal to make security of our children a top priority. The incident was actually prevented by a third party, WeTip, with technology created by Sean Weber. Our school boards must become proactive regarding the safety of our children instead of relying on outside resources.

How does your experience in martial arts influence your interactions with youth?

I presently coach people of all ages in the Santa Clarita Valley. Some of my students include local teenagers and children as young as four years old. I teach students life skills such as accountability, self-confidence, self-discipline, social skills, respect for others, goal setting, body awareness, inclusivity and mental wellness.

Kelly Trunkey

Why are you running for school board?

I believe our high school board is in desperate need of fresh ideas. Members need to be able to look ahead and know the issues that secondary schools are battling outside of our own junior high and high schools. The board should always be looking for answers and working to implement progressive solutions in advance of our community questioning whether anyone — the board is going to do something to help our students or better our community.

Why should voters elect you to the Hart Board?

The William S. Hart Union High School Board has become too complacent. Right now, we live in a world that is dominated with partisan politics and not enough emphasis on education. We deserve board members that are proactively searching for ways to better our schools, who are really listening to our concerns and willing to work together to find solutions! We need board members who know what today’s teens are facing. I plan on being that proactive board member, working for you, working for our kids.

Are there certain issues you are passionate about or would like to focus on?

We need to implement better safety and security on our campuses. Our students need to know they are protected so they can place their focus where it belongs — on their education. Having children of my own, living with the realities of the campus of today, I am more than aware of the security concerns our students are experiencing. Almost half of our students are worried about not if, but when there will be an incident on a Santa Clarita campus.

We must fight to improve the acceptance of our diverse population and champion the inclusion of our entire student body within our schools. The entire educational community must understand and embrace all of our students in order to create a more positive future for all.

The school board needs to increase their transparency and accountability. There needs to be better communication between the board and the community. Whether the issue of the moment is a concern over the rules regarding staff member’s actions, or why a certain company was awarded a job, the community needs to know what the process is leading up to the board’s decisions.

Do you have accomplishments or proud moments you’d like readers to know?

I have been active in not only my own kid’s education, but in all of our children’s education for almost 20 years now. I have diligently pushed for more arts in our schools. I am proud to mention that I was the recipient of the California PTA Honorary Service Award in 2013. I want to continue that work. I want to serve on the High School board to continue working for our students.

Anything else you’d like potential voters to know?

School boards are non-partisan positions. Board members should have no political aspirations beyond helping our students. Just like PTA volunteers, teachers, staff and coaches, board members are role models for our youth. Any elected board official, must remember to be vigilantly aware of how they represent themselves in public. If that is not possible or they do not truly believe in championing all of our students, he or she should not be given the honor to serve.

Yet again, I know I am that proud board member you all deserve. Our community needs to remember California used to be the no. 1 state in education. California currently ranks 46th in education. The issue is education. Nothing more, nothing less. We all need to put our youth first. This our future. This is their future. Let’s make a difference together.

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Controversial Hart District incumbent Joe Messina faces two challengers
Article Name
Controversial Hart District incumbent Joe Messina faces two challengers
With Joe Messina up for re-election, the race in Trustee Area 5 could turn out to be a referendum on his controversial behavior — or reveal continued community support for the longtime officeholder.
Publisher Name
The Santa Clarita Valley Proclaimer
Sebastian Cazares

Sebastian Cazares is a lifelong Santa Clarita resident and student at College of the Canyons. He was heavily involved in Speech, Model UN, Rotary Club and journalism during his high school years. Sebastian is deeply interested in local politics and excited to report on the issues that impact his community.

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