Del Mar Union School District Board candidates hash out hot topic issues during a public forum
By Marlena Chavira-Medford
All five candidates for the Del Mar Union School District Board of Trustees took part in a public televised forum held Sept. 30 at the Del Mar Television Studio.
The forum will air on Thursday, Oct. 7, at 8 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 10, at 7 p.m. and Thursday, Oct. 21, at 8 p.m. The program will be broadcast on Del Mar TV - Time Warner Cable channel 130 or 24 (analog). It will also be streamed at regularly scheduled showtimes on the web at
During the hour-long forum — which was sponsored by the Del Mar Television Foundation, the Del Mar Times and Carmel Valley News — candidates fielded questions from longtime education reporters Marsha Sutton and Karen Billing, both of whom write for this newspaper.
The candidates were asked about their stance on everything from imposing a parcel tax to the district's ongoing search for a new headquarters. The responses to those questions were as varied as the five candidates: Kristin Gibson, a former elementary school teacher who is now an educational consultant; Scott Wooden, a director of a local pharmaceutical lab; Doug Rafner, an attorney specializing in mediation; Jason Maletic, a small business owner who provides consulting and inspection services to schools all over the county; and Steven McDowell, a financial consultant and the current school board president.
The lease on the district's current headquarters ends this May, so the quest to secure new office space is a front burner issue, and one that the candidates were asked about.
Wooden, Maletic, and Rafner all said the current board has dragged its feet, with Wooden going as far as saying he'd address the issue within his first six months if he were elected. Wooden also expressed frustrations with the board's frequent dealings behind closed doors, which came up after being asked about the Brown Act.
"The board has seemed to do things that are not out in the open," he said, citing times the board had discussed potential district headquarters in closed sessions. Had they been discussing specific contract terms, that'd be understandable, he added, but said the public should have been involved in the selection process from the beginning.
The district offers art, music, technology, science, and physical education through its extended curriculum program. The candidates were each asked to pick one subject they'd cut if budget constraints forced them to do so. Most of the candidates declined to pick one, saying they'd find other funding or leave it up to individual schools to make that decision.
Maletic was the only candidate to select one, saying though it'd be an unfortunate scenario, he'd pick physical education.
"[Physical education] is very important, but it just seems like it'd be the easiest of those to continue with the help of volunteers," he explained of his decision.