News

Watch the Ravenswood school board candidates discuss top issues

One incumbent, five challengers compete for two open seats in K-8 district

From top to bottom, left to right: Brownyn Alexander, Jenny Varghese Bloom, Zeb Feldman, Marielena Gaona Mendoza, Julian Garcia and Joel Rivera are running for the Ravenswood Board of Education this fall. Courtesy and file photos.

Six candidates are running for two open seats on the Ravenswood City School District Board of Trustees.

The terms of trustees Sharifa Wilson and Marielena Gaona Mendoza are ending in November. Wilson is not running for reelection after 12 years on the board, while Gaona Mendoza is seeking a second term. The newcomers include a Ravenswood parent, two former district employees, a labor negotiator and a labor manager.

This year's election comes at a time of transition and rebuilding for the K-8 school district, which serves about 1,700 students in East Palo Alto and east Menlo Park. The district has a new superintendent, Gina Sudaria, in place after years of leadership and financial upheaval, and a comprehensive middle school to better prepare Ravenswood students for success in high school. The district is navigating the challenges of making sure students who lack sufficient support and internet access at home during distance learning don't fall behind. (Ravenswood school campuses are remaining closed until at least late November.)

Whoever is elected to the board will also have to meet the challenge of the pandemic as well as Ravenswood's declining enrollment, which led to the closure of two elementary schools this year. At least one of the candidates opposes the Voluntary Transfer Program, which allows Ravenswood students to attend neighboring school districts, and another is a staunch opponent of charter schools, which have been criticized for taking students and funding away from the local neighborhood schools.

To get to know the candidates better and find out where they stand on top issues facing the district, watch video interviews the Weekly conducted with Bronwyn Alexander, Jenny Varghese Bloom, Zeb Feldman, Gaona Mendoza and Joel Rivera. (Candidate Julian Garcia did not respond to multiple interview requests, and candidate Mele Latu has halted her campaign for personal reasons.)

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• Bronwyn Alexander discusses issues surrounding the Ravenswood City School District with the Palo Alto Weekly.

• Jenny Varghese Bloom discusses issues surrounding the Ravenswood City School District with the Palo Alto Weekly.

• Zeb Feldman discusses issues surrounding the Ravenswood City School District with the Palo Alto Weekly.

• Marielena Gaona Mendoza discusses issues surrounding the Ravenswood City School District with the Palo Alto Weekly.

• Joel Rivera discusses issues surrounding the Ravenswood City School District with the Palo Alto Weekly.

More election coverage:

Election Guide 2020

We've compiled an election guide so local voters can educate themselves about the candidates and measures on the Nov. 3 ballot.

Voter resources

A contentious general election in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic has brought rise to another issue: casting a ballot. Here's what you need to know about voting by mail this fall.

Resources

Here's how you can vote in East Palo Alto

East Palo Alto voters have several options for returning their completed ballots, which can be dropped off at three drop box locations in their city or in-person vote centers throughout San Mateo County.

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Watch the Ravenswood school board candidates discuss top issues

One incumbent, five challengers compete for two open seats in K-8 district

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Mon, Oct 12, 2020, 5:11 pm

Six candidates are running for two open seats on the Ravenswood City School District Board of Trustees.

The terms of trustees Sharifa Wilson and Marielena Gaona Mendoza are ending in November. Wilson is not running for reelection after 12 years on the board, while Gaona Mendoza is seeking a second term. The newcomers include a Ravenswood parent, two former district employees, a labor negotiator and a labor manager.

This year's election comes at a time of transition and rebuilding for the K-8 school district, which serves about 1,700 students in East Palo Alto and east Menlo Park. The district has a new superintendent, Gina Sudaria, in place after years of leadership and financial upheaval, and a comprehensive middle school to better prepare Ravenswood students for success in high school. The district is navigating the challenges of making sure students who lack sufficient support and internet access at home during distance learning don't fall behind. (Ravenswood school campuses are remaining closed until at least late November.)

Whoever is elected to the board will also have to meet the challenge of the pandemic as well as Ravenswood's declining enrollment, which led to the closure of two elementary schools this year. At least one of the candidates opposes the Voluntary Transfer Program, which allows Ravenswood students to attend neighboring school districts, and another is a staunch opponent of charter schools, which have been criticized for taking students and funding away from the local neighborhood schools.

To get to know the candidates better and find out where they stand on top issues facing the district, watch video interviews the Weekly conducted with Bronwyn Alexander, Jenny Varghese Bloom, Zeb Feldman, Gaona Mendoza and Joel Rivera. (Candidate Julian Garcia did not respond to multiple interview requests, and candidate Mele Latu has halted her campaign for personal reasons.)

• Bronwyn Alexander discusses issues surrounding the Ravenswood City School District with the Palo Alto Weekly.

• Jenny Varghese Bloom discusses issues surrounding the Ravenswood City School District with the Palo Alto Weekly.

• Zeb Feldman discusses issues surrounding the Ravenswood City School District with the Palo Alto Weekly.

• Marielena Gaona Mendoza discusses issues surrounding the Ravenswood City School District with the Palo Alto Weekly.

• Joel Rivera discusses issues surrounding the Ravenswood City School District with the Palo Alto Weekly.

More election coverage:

Election Guide 2020

We've compiled an election guide so local voters can educate themselves about the candidates and measures on the Nov. 3 ballot.

Voter resources

A contentious general election in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic has brought rise to another issue: casting a ballot. Here's what you need to know about voting by mail this fall.

Here's how you can vote in East Palo Alto

East Palo Alto voters have several options for returning their completed ballots, which can be dropped off at three drop box locations in their city or in-person vote centers throughout San Mateo County.

Comments

Ravenswood School District Resident
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Oct 13, 2020 at 6:46 am
Ravenswood School District Resident , East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 13, 2020 at 6:46 am
20 people like this

Jesusita Rivera sounds so good, she should be the one running instead of her husband. It seems to me like he was pushed into running and the Teachers Association are coaching him , but they are doing a poor job. He reminds me of Marcelino Lopez. Joel Riveral has a conflict of interest. Poor guy, he is over the place I am wondering if the candidates received the questions ahead of time. In other videos of him and Alexander they are always reading from a paper and Mr. Rivera is reading his answers for a bunch of sheets; at one point he could not find them and the moderated told him you are on the clock because he was taking too long trying to find the page that had the correct answer.
I would love to vote for a hispanic candidate, but not for him. Cannot believe that he actually says that his is his second time running when he probably did not even registered to vote.


Jesusita Rivera
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Oct 13, 2020 at 7:53 pm
Jesusita Rivera, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 13, 2020 at 7:53 pm
1 person likes this

I keep looking for the reaction buttons on these comments, like on FB, the LOL one in particular. The post above by the anonymous Ravenswood School District resident is HILARIOUS!! I find it interesting how people will post things as if it were fact anonymously!! LOL LOL LOL! I would love to have a conversation with the anonymous poster over some of their concerns over “poor guy” that reminds them of Marcelino Lopez which got the biggest LOL from me as I read it. Ahhhhhh....thanks for the laugh. But, I don’t talk to people who post things anonymously, but again, thanks for the chuckle. Have a great day.


Registered Voter
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Oct 14, 2020 at 12:32 am
Registered Voter , East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2020 at 12:32 am
15 people like this

Thanks God for these forums that present candidate with specific questions on key issues and how each one responds to those important questions give voters an opportunity to get to know the candidates better, I must say that so far I’m not impressed by most, however, Ms. Gaona-Mendoza is the only one that so far appears to be more in line with the key issues that are currently affecting the Ravenswood Comunity,. Some of the candidates spoke very eloquently but with NO substance and in my opinion they didn’t came across credible or genuine but rather rehearsed. Furthermore, one of them , (the one that said his wife is a teacher) did not actually address ANY of the questions presented by the moderator, every single one of his answers had absolutely nothing to do with the question being asked, he was so random and all over the place and his responses to all the questions made absolutely no sense, while other candidates attempt to overcompensate their shortcomings by inundating the town with OVER SIZE banners and posters to a nuisance. Hopefully more and more voters get to watch these informative forums to inform themselves to make an informed decision at voting time and hopefully voters don’t just vote because they were impressed by the SIZE and quantity of their Campaign Banners.
Thank You, God Bless you all and stay safe.


Analyze Before You Vote
Registered user
Menlo Park
on Oct 14, 2020 at 9:54 am
Analyze Before You Vote, Menlo Park
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2020 at 9:54 am
17 people like this

Please do not put the wrong people engaged of our students education. Analyze the voters backgroud and their qualifications jut because somebody's wife is a teacer does not qualify to be in charge of students future, I am sure Jesusita's husband is great at construction. It is very suspecious that Alexander B and Joel R were the ones who got the endorsement from RTA. According to other candidates, they did not even got a chance to be endorsed because the endorsements took place way before people registered to run. It seems like they wanted to make sure they give the endorsements to them not other people. This is cheating and not plalying it fair for every candidate who is running.


Ravenswood School District Resident
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Oct 14, 2020 at 10:17 am
Ravenswood School District Resident, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2020 at 10:17 am
12 people like this

Thanks to the former poster for giving voters crucial information.
I will give the vote for anyother candidates but te couple who are running together, the fact that the rest of the candidates did not get a chance to endorse because according to the former poster they took place way before they knew who was running makes me belive that they do not have the integrity and transparency that it is required to move this district forward to benefit our students (not just the teachers)
Anyother candidate will have more integrety and transparency than this couple. To the couple who are running together
If the former poster's information is not accurate about you getting endorsed before the rest of the candidates register please clarify otherwise, I will assume that the former poster knows what is talking about. I am tired of this district being lead by leaders and administrators who lack transparency, honesty and integrity and are only running in their best interest and with hidden agenda (to make sure that they are on the teacher's side)
Also the reason I say he reminds me of Marcelino Lopez, it is because he has no idea what he was doing and almost always voted the same way the other board members did. He was a copy cat, now RTA wants to have someone to replace him.


Incumbbent
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Oct 16, 2020 at 12:18 pm
Incumbbent , East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 16, 2020 at 12:18 pm
6 people like this

During this time, you will get mailers, and see big banners from candidates, telling you to vote for them and why. You will not see any of those from me because I purposely did not get the RTA endorsement as I did not want to have any strings attached. My supporters are hard working parents who are on a low salary, or have recently lost their job due to COVID. Therefore I refused to ask them for donations to waste on emailers or humongous banners. Instead of doing that, Everyday I walk in my neighborhood talk to them and listened to their concerns. I am running for re-election because I want to finish the job I started four years ago which is to improve our students education so they do not have to ride the bus to go other school districts, to charters or privates in order to get an excellent education in their own neighborhood. I donot have a hidden agenda, and I do not have a conflict of interest because I do not have a husband or family member who works at the Ravenswood School District.


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