By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor
Photo, from left to right: Steve Babbit, Rebecca McRae, Jerry Lecko, Charda Fontenot
October 16, 2018 (La Mesa) - Political civility ruled when four candidates for three open positions on the La Mesa-Spring Valley School Board appeared at a community forum put on by the La Mesa First United Methodist Church in downtown La Mesa. Appearing at the event were Steve Babbit, Jerry Lecko, Chardá Fontenot, and Rebecca McRae. Declared candidates Megan Epperson, Brianna Garza, and Matthew Austin Sablove, although invited, were not present at the forum.
The three open positions are presently being held by David Chong, Rebekah Basson and Bob Duff, who are not seeking reelection.
The event was sparsely attended by some 30 people, including La Mesa Mayor Mark Arapostathis and Councilman Guy McWhirter.
While members of the church asked questions on potentially controversial subjects, the four candidates offered middle-of-the-road answers to the pre-written questions read by church memberswho have students attending school in the district. The topics ran the gamut from aligning student vacation schedules with the Grossmont Union High School District to arming teachers with guns. Other topics included sixth grade outdoor school, student walkouts over controversial issues, homeless students, school vouchers and charter schools.
Babbit is a Senior Pastor at Spring Valley Community Church, a former journalist, and currently serves as the LMSV Schools Personnel Commissioner. Babbit was selected to serve on the Board as an appointee from 2015-2016, when he chose not to run. His wife is a principal at Dale Elementary school. In addition, he has been a past Taxpayer Representative (and then President) on the Prop M Citizen’s Bond Oversight Committee.
Lecko is a former LMSV parent and a local architect. He has previously served on the LMSV School Board and has twenty years within the District. He was Chairman of the Prop M Bond Oversight Committee and received the Rose award in recognition ofOutstanding Service to Education.
McRae currently teaches a first and second grade combination class at Clay Elementary in the San Diego Unified School District as a part of her 14 years teaching in public schools. She possesses a master’s degree in education with an emphasis in curriculum and instruction. McRae has two children within the LMSV School District.
Fontenot says that she is the only candidate who has actually been a student in the LMSV district. Her campaign flyer states that she participates as a school district volunteer, PTA board member, District Advisory Council representative, and a School Site Council member which she has performed as a chair. A certified lactation educator and counselor, she has been endorsed by the California School Employees Association.
Lecko, McRae, and Fontenot have been endorsed by the La Mesa-Spring Valley Teacher’s Associationand are running as a slate. Fontenot and McRae are endorsed by the County Democratic Party; Lecko is an independent not registered in any party.
Babbit, Epperson and Garza are also running as a slate, endorsed by the San Diego County Republican Party.
East County Magazine attempted to contact the candidates who were no-shows at the event, but did not receive responses.
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