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East Palo Alto councilwoman seeks seat on Sequoia school board

Former mayor and Paly grad Laura Martinez in running for open seat

Six people, including East Palo Alto Councilwoman Laura Martinez, have applied for an interim position on the board of the Sequoia Union High School District, according to district Superintendent Jim Lianides.

Martinez, who has served on the City Council since 2008 and was the first Latina and youngest member to sit on the council, works at East Palo Alto Phoenix Academy's after-school programs director and family college resource center coordinator. She said Monday that her background makes her unique and an ideal candidate to serve on the board.

"I think some of the greatest challenges that the district faces are maintaining strong fiscal health, closing the achievement gap, college and career readiness and continuing professional development," she added.

Martinez said she's particularly passionate about college and career readiness, and credited her alma mater, Palo Alto High School, and a local nonprofit, Foundation for College Education, for helping her succeed after high school.

"I was the first in my family to graduate from a four-year college and I was able to do that because of the support I received from my high school college center and the college-prep program I was part of," she said.

Candidate interviews will be done in open session before the public at a special board meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 11, at the district office, 480 James Ave., Redwood City.

The five-member board has had a vacancy since longtime member Olivia Martinez retired earlier this month. Her term expires in December 2015.

Laura Martinez said she will resign from the City Council if chosen to serve during this interim period, and plans to run for the open seat in December.

With six candidates to be interviewed on one night, followed by a board discussion and as many votes as are needed to choose a new member, the board agreed to limit the interviews to 30 minutes each.

The following biographical information was drawn from online sources such as Facebook, LinkedIn and bios from previous elections. The six candidates, in alphabetical order, are:

Georgia Solkov Jack, associate director of stewardship at Stanford University's Office of Development and an active community volunteer in Redwood City. Education: bachelor of fine arts degree in photo illustration from Rochester Institute of Technology.

Laura Martinez, a former mayor of East Palo Alto, current City Councilwoman, community activist, and youth and family director at East Palo Alto Phoenix Academy. Education: bachelor's degree in sociology and Spanish from Whittier College.

Ellen Mouchawar, an Atherton attorney (inactive) and active volunteer in the Ravenswood City Elementary School District. Education: bachelor's degree in international relations from Stanford University, JD magna cum laude from the Hastings College of the Law at the University of California in San Francisco.

Jay Siegel, a former member of the Las Lomitas Elementary School District board. Education: bachelor's degree in economics from Antioch College, doctorate in economics and statistics from Stanford University.

Sus Kim Thumasathit, the chief executive of the medical consulting firm All For One in Menlo Park. Education: Pepperdine University, The George L. Graziadio School of Business and Management.

Isaiah Vi, an information technology analyst and a former member of the JobTrain Board of Directors. Education: Information not available at the time of publication.

— Dave Boyce and Elena Kadvany

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