The merged Twin Rivers Unified school district seems to have turned a corner after its fractious first years.
Relations between the North Sacramento, Del Paso Heights and Rio Linda areas remain somewhat strained, but all seem to be unifying around a dynamic new superintendent and the stellar team he is assembling.
Superintendent Steven Martinez, who was one of the first in his family to go to college and whose parents didnt graduate from high school, is a champion for excellence dating back to his days as principal of Clovis East High School, which became a California State Distinguished School within one year of his arrival.
This board seems poised to get beyond the crises of the moment, of which there have been many, including a formerly out-of-control district police department and skyrocketing legal costs. In the name of stability on a board that has slowly become more collegial, The Bees editorial board recommends the incumbents.
Area 6 (Dos Rios, Gardenland, Northgate and South Natomas): Rebecca Sandoval
Board president Sandoval, serving her first term, has been steady since she was elected in July 2013. She presided during the boards selection of the new superintendent, whom she enthusiastically supports. Meetings follow protocol and are more productive than in the past, no longer lasting until the wee hours of the morning. Sandoval visits the schools and is a team builder.
She has a strong sense of ethics, leading the effort to remove Cortez Quinn from his seat as board president after he was fined $14,000 by the California Fair Political Practices Commission for accepting personal loans from a school employee and failing to report them on financial disclosure forms. That has cost her support, but she did the right thing.
Challenger Lanette Robinson is appealing, authentic, enthusiastic and a genuine community resource. She supported the merger as a 2002-2006 member of the Del Paso Heights school board. She, too, supports Twin Rivers new superintendent.
Challenger Roger Westrup, seeking a comeback to the board after his defeat in 2012, did not interview with the editorial board.
Area 2 (West Foothill Farms and North Highlands):
Dexter, also serving his first term, is a conscientious and prepared board member. He came in wanting to make budgets his priority and has followed through. He has pressed to rein in excessive legal costs. He also has cast unpopular votes, siding with Sandoval and against the boards decision to override the police chiefs decision to disband the police-dog unit. He and Sandoval were right; the board should not be micromanaging the department.
Dexter voted with the board in favor of hiring the new superintendent and is a strong supporter, saying Martinez has a great vision of what Twin Rivers can become.
This race is a rematch, with Michelle Rivas running after her defeat in 2012. She clearly was humbled by the experience of the 55 percent to 45 percent loss and would do some things differently, such as attending more community meetings. She cares about students and consciously attempts to be a role model for teen mothers trying to turn their lives around. That said, the incumbent John Dexter deserves re-election, as does Rebecca Sandoval.
Update: The editorial has been corrected to reflect that John Dexter voted with the board, in a 6-0-1 vote, with Rebecca Sandoval absent, in June 2013 to hire Steven Martinez as the new superintendent for Twin Rivers Unified.