The Coast News Group
Three incumbents running for re-election to the Encinitas Union School District keep their seats following the Nov. 4 elections. File photo
Three incumbents running for re-election to the Encinitas Union School District keep their seats following the Nov. 4 elections. File photo

Trio of candidates re-elected to school board

ENCINITAS — A trio of Encinitas Union School District incumbents who ran as a ticket against their lone challenger have won re-election to the school board.

With all of the precincts reporting, Marla Strich, Emily Andrade and Gregg Sonken lead Jennifer Hamler for the three open positions on the K-6 elementary school district board. Strich leads the way with 27.26 percent of the votes cast, Andrade has 26.64, Sonken has 25.14 and Hamler has 20.96 percent.

“We have to assume that the voters said that they are very pleased with the direction that we are going as a district and the wonderful progress we have made in the last four years,” said Andrade, a longtime district principal who was first elected in 2010. “Encinitas Union is a really cutting-edge school district, with great leadership from (Superintendent) Tim Baird, and we have been able to do some amazing things and we look forward to another four years of working with teachers and families to continue the great work we have already started.”

By winning re-election, the victors have the opportunity to further bolster their four-vote majority on the school board when the district appoints a replacement for Maureen “Mo” Muir, who voters elected to the San Dieguito Union High School District.

Hamler, a Muir protege, ran on a campaign of putting children first, empowering teachers and giving parents a louder voice in the district’s decision-making process. She believed that the current board makeup had strayed from those principles and become more beholden to teacher and employee’s unions.

Hamler expressed disappointment with the results.

“We ran a good honest clean campaign, and we couldn’t have done anything else,” Hamler said. “I am happy it is over. I’m ready to go back to being a mom and keep doing what I am doing.”

“I wouldn’t change a thing, though. I felt we did everything appropriate, and I wanted to set a good example for my kids and all of the kids in the district,” Hamler added.

Hamler was an outspoken critic of the school board’s response to calls for more transparency after a. open-government watchdog group slammed the district for hosting a retreat — attended by four of the five board members — without providing the public notice of the meeting. She said that supporters on the campaign trail were concerned with the lack of transparency on the board.

She voiced some skepticism when asked if she would consider a run for the school board in 2016 and signaled she would consider a run for the high school district board her mentor joined.

“I don’t know if anything is going to change (in EUSD), so I am not sure if it is worth my energy,” Hamler said about continuing to be active in Encinitas Union school affairs. “I ran on giving parents a voice, and I think that was taken away from us now with the election results.”

Meanwhile, the re-elected board members said they will continue to address the challenges facing the district, including the implementation of Common Core Standards and updating the district’s technology, as well as the completion of the district’s highly anticipated student farm lab.

“I’m pleased with the progress we are making on those fronts,” Andrade said.