Lead Story West Edition

19 candidates seek Compton school board seats

COMPTON — Four of the seven seats on the Compton Unified School District Board of Education are up for at-large election Nov. 7.

Incumbents include school board clerk Margie N. Garrett, members Alma Taylor-Pleasant and Mae Thomas and President Satra D. Zurita.

But they aren’t the only members of the community vying for a spot to become part of Compton’s leadership. There are a total of 15 other candidates including 12 newcomers Barbara Banks, Rodney Lonnell Curry, Jesse Harris, Ricky Hicks, Mary Jackson-Freeny, Luis Landeros, Anthony Lee Perry, Shawn Poole-Louis, Jonathan Taylor and Tracy Shawn Wiggins.

Also on the ballot are former member Alita Godwin in addition to former candidates Barbara Calhoun, Willie Dewitt Carson, Joseph L. Lewis and Gregory Pitts.

The length of the ballot is nothing new for the Compton school board. In 2015, there were 20 candidates, who challenged for three spots and 13 candidates who challenged for four spots in 2013.

Elections take place in November of every odd year with three and four positions alternating their place on the ballot. A full board can never be up for election in the same year.

The current board president, Zurita, is a lifelong Compton resident and a product of the Compton Unified School District.

“The work is visible,” Zurita said. “The graduation rate is up to 80 percent. The dropout rate is down tremendously. We’re in the process of building a new Compton High School. The foundation is set and it’s important that we continue to have proven leaders.”

As the daughter of former City Councilwoman Delores Zurita and sister to current council member Janna Zurita, Satra Zurita, has been a major player within Compton’s turnaround since being elected to serve on the board in 2005. She looks forward to extending her service within the district for an additional term.

Prioritizing the expansion of school choice within the district, increasing arts education and balancing as well as maintaining the district’s budget are among the major issues that the board is looking to address over the next few years.

Zurita identified Luis Landeros as the lone viable candidate to challenge for a position on the board. She didn’t say who he would potentially replace, but she did allude that with the Compton’s Latino population making up for close 50 percent of the schools’s student body, his candidacy offers better balance and representation within the board in regard to matching that demographic.

However, Zurita does believe that all of the incumbents will be re-elected for one of which reasons include the lack of campaigning that candidates have done this year.

“There haven’t been any candidate forums or meet-and-greets or opportunities to get to know more about the candidates,” she said. “So you don’t really know who they are or what they do.”

The remaining board members, Charles Davis, Micah Ali and Sandra Moss, will be up for re-election in 2019.