By Rita Robinson | LB Indy
Incumbent Ketta Brown was the top vote-getter in Tuesday’s election and will return to the Laguna Beach School Board for a third four-year term. Newcomers Carol Normandin and Dee Perry, who won the other two available seats on the five-member board, join her.
After unsuccessfully running two years ago, Perry said she feels she earned her chance to sit on the other side of the podium. Rather than questioning board policies and asking for changes, as she did at numerous board meetings, she is now in the position to make them.
“It’s probably sweeter this time because I worked so much harder,” she said. “I appreciate that people didn’t just see me as a loser and that I made the right decision to try again.”
Perry said she worked harder by going door-to-door to introduce herself to voters and by making a video about her positions available online. The video allowed her to reach more people than she could on her own. “It was easier to get my name out there to different age groups and former students and for them to pass it on to friends,” said Perry, a retired elementary and special education teacher and speech pathologist, who worked at all four Laguna Beach public schools for 35 years.
She also said she spent more money this year and took donations for the first time.
The first subject she aims to address is the new state-mandated Common Core academic standards. “The board seemed to be just fine with it but a lot of people aren’t just fine with it,” she said. “I really want to listen to both sides, explore it more and educate myself and everybody else.”
Brown was down and out Tuesday night, she said. Thinking she had the flu, she took a sleep aid and did just that. Her symptoms have improved to what she thinks is now a cold. “I’m happy I’m on the board,” she said Wednesday, “and I welcome Dee and Carol. I think they’ll be good.” Brown favors implementing the new academic standards as mandated.
Carol Normandin, the other newcomer to the board, also favors Common Core and has said it would be foolish to try to make any changes.
“I intend to fulfill my promises to promote transparency and communication, implement sound hiring practices and maintain the fiscal responsibility that we have to the schools, students, teachers and taxpayers,” Normandin stated in an email. “As a person new to the political process, I could not have made this journey without the advice and guidance of many supporters….I look forward to serving on the School Board and working tirelessly towards my goal of establishing the LBUSD as one of the highest ranked school districts in the country.”
Annette Gibson, the fourth candidate who lost by 641 votes, said she’s not giving up the fight to contest Common Core standards. “I always knew I was the underdog,” she said. “My biggest goal was to inform people about Common Core, and I think I did that.”
Gibson considers her campaign a success. “There wasn’t anything negative about it, even the negative things people said about me,” she said. “That’s what America’s all about.” Gibson did say she wished her critics would have come to her directly to express their disagreements.
Gibson will continue to oppose the state-mandated standards at the county level as an unconstitutional mandate. “I wanted to protect parents from having to see changes they didn’t like,” she said. “When they see their kids acting differently and thinking they’re dumb all of a sudden, they’ll understand.”
Faces may change but most issues remain pretty constant, said board president Jan Vickers. “I’m real pleased Ketta was re-elected. She’s a strong board member. It’s a big change for us. We’ve had the same board for six years.”
New members will take seats at the Dec. 9 board meeting vacated by Betsy Jenkins and Theresa O’Hare, who did not seek re-election.
Ketta Brown: 4,234/31.7%
Dee Namba Perry: 3,513/26.3%
Carol Normandin: 3,137/23.4%
Annette L. Gibson: 2,496/18.7%
Source: OC Registrar of Voters