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NAJEE’S NOTES: My picks for Compton school board

It’s that time of the year again, election season.

Compton residents will go to the polls Nov. 3 to vote on what I hope will be elected officials who truly will stand up and represent the needs of the people. Here’s a brief snapshot of candidates I spoke to and interviewed over the last couple of weeks. Candidates I can’t vote for because I live in Los Angeles, but they’re all my personal favorites.

Arturo Da’Naire Frazier is a candidate for the Compton school board. He was born in Compton in February 1978.  Arturo is a product of the public school system of the Compton Unified School District. He attended Laurel Street Elementary, George Washington Elementary and Willowbrook Middle School and graduated in the top 10 of his class from Centennial High School in 1996.

During his attendance at Centennial High, Arturo was a member of the College Bound program and was also the drum captain of the marching band all four years of his attendance. After graduating from Centennial High, Arturo went on to pursue his undergraduate studies at Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

While attending Southern University, Arturo discovered his passion for business, entrepreneurial pursuits and leadership and chose business marketing as his major course of study. Frazier went on to complete his undergraduate degree in 2002 from Southern University and in the following year was hired in his hometown as a City Council liaison for the Compton City Council 4th District for then-Councilman Isadore Hall, III.

Some of the projects that Arturo has played a significant part in stewarding were the city of Compton’s Quarterly Business-to-Business Breakfast Roundtable and Networking Sessions, community town hall meetings, community prostitution abatement/redirection projects, annual Thanksgiving turkey giveaway, Christmas toy drives and the district-wide community cleanups.

After serving for five-plus years as a council liaison, Arturo went on to continue his work as a project manager for strategic initiatives at the Los Angeles Urban League. He was responsible for the implementation of mission-critical strategic initiatives such as the Greater Crenshaw Educational Partnership, the nonprofit organization formed to reform Crenshaw High School and its family of schools. As the project coordinator for the Los Angeles Urban League, Arturo played a fundamental role on behalf of the league in assisting with the improvement of the partnering schools API scores, state testing scores through community collaboration projects such as Neighborhoods at Work.

Through the Strategy Department, Arturo helped to secure, establish and maintain corporate and community sponsorships that aided in funding many underfunded and/or non-funded academic programs at Crenshaw High School and its feeder schools.

Furthermore, Arturo Frazier has continued his work (2014-15) as a case worker, project manager and field representative for the California Legislature, 62nd Assembly District under former Assemblyman Steven Bradford.

His passion for community service is not just limited to politics or his place of employment. While serving in politics for the last 12 years, Arturo has simultaneously served as a youth pastor and an evangelist here in Los Angeles. He is a licensed ordained minister  serving on the Apostolic Crusade Team with Bishop Clarence E. McClendon and A Miracle for You – Conferences and Crusades.

Barbara J. Calhoun’s deep commitment to Compton and the well being of its people has driven her to create meaningful, positive change in the quality of life of Compton’s residents.

Calhoun’s vigorous enthusiasm for Compton inspired her to dedicate her life to working for its betterment. Prior to her tenure as city councilwoman, she served on the Compton school board, worked as a Los Angeles City traffic officer for over two decades, and has been an active volunteer and advocate in numerous civic events, trade unions and labor affiliations.

A native Californian, Calhoun graduated from John C. Fremont High School (1968) and has proudly resided in Compton ever since. Calhoun’s belief in the empowerment of individuals and communities compelled her to study labor law at L.A. Trade Technical College in preparation for a career in public service.

Calhoun understands firsthand the advantages of a quality education, as well as the disadvantages created by a faltering educational system. Her dedication to achieving excellence in Compton’s school system resulted in her November 2001 election to the school board where she served as a two-term legislative aide.

Here, her tireless drive and responsible stewardship resulted in several important advances for CUSD such as construction of William Jefferson Clinton Elementary, Compton’s first new public school in 35 years.  Her determination was also instrumental in the success of the Measure I Bond Campaign (November 2002), providing $80 million to renovate Compton’s schools and restore the district to full local governance.

Calhoun has long believed that involvement in one’s community is a powerful tool for change. She has served as president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 347, as vice chair of SEIU’s Western Regional Caucus and as a delegate for the 52nd Assembly District and executive board.

Micah Ali, who is no relation to me, was elected to the Compton school board in 2007 and overwhelmingly re-elected in 2011. He is currently president of the board. The lifelong Compton community advocate is focused on improving the public schools, and thus, his community and his state.

Ali strongly believes that “the primary purpose of the Compton schools is to meet the needs of our students and to prepare them to have bright and prosperous futures.”

With that in mind the CUSD president has become an avowed supporter of early childhood education, believing passionately that greater access to the creative arts, such as music and dance, can vastly improve the academic performance of young children.

Meanwhile, as a leader in the field, Ali has earned a reputation as a champion of students’ rights. As Compton’s schools succeed through improving graduation rates, test scores and professional development for teachers and staff, he believes all of California will take notice. Ali has worked to include teachers’ involvement in decision making that impacts classroom instruction. He also has fought to create safe classroom environments for students, teachers and classified employees.

Ali is a strong advocate for special education and after-school programs. Under Ali’s watch, Compton’s school budgets have stabilized and investments in school modernization have increased. This is good for our students, our families and the local economy.

A champion of working people, he led the fight to pass a resolution supporting the Employee Free Choice Act and successfully fought efforts to repeal the school district’s project labor agreement with dozens of trade unions. He also has been leading the effort to identify and reduce wasteful spending and excessive legal fees.

In 1998, Ali worked with the late U.S. Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald as a congressional fellow in Washington, D.C. He has also worked with numerous other California Democrats, including Compton City Councilwoman Delores Zurita and the late Assemblyman Mervyn Dymally.

Ali studied at Stanford University, Yale University and received his bachelor of science degree from Cal State Dominguez Hills.

Ali also serves on the board of directors of the Wilmington Medical Clinic. chairman of the Compton Community College District Personnel Commission (2003-06), vice chairman of the Compton Unified School District Personnel Commission (2006-07). It was in his role as a Compton personnel commissioner; Ali earned statewide recognition and distinction as a guardian of California’s Merit System, a system that ensures employees are hired in accordance with Personnel Commission Rules and Regulations on the basis of merit and fitness, without favoritism, interference, or influence.

Well family, these are my personal choices in Compton. Good luck to all the candidates.

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