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Compact ABC School Board Campaign Field Enters Final Stretch Run

Incumbents Lynda Johnson and Olympia Chen.

Incumbents Lynda Johnson and Olympia Chen.

By Brian Hews

You can call them the “ABC 4.”

Four candidates who are aggressively pounding the pavement, knocking on doors, making telephone calls and attending debates all in hopes of earning votes from voters who live in the ABC Unified School District boundaries.

On November 5, voters in the school district will be asked to elect three new Governing Board Members in a race that has only attracted four active candidates and one who dropped his bid a few weeks ago.

Incumbent ABC School Board Members Olympia Chen and Lynda Johnson are facing spirited campaign challenges from two main opponents Ethan Robinson, an Assistant City Attorney for the City of Los Angeles, and Soo Yoo, who owns and operates a for profit education academy based in Cerritos.

Chen and Johnson have been given the endorsement of the ABC Federation of Teachers and have been able to rely on campaign mailings that have been funded directly from the local powerhouse teachers union.

Here is more on the four candidates.

A coloured voting box

A coloured voting box (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Incumbent Olympia Chen

Chen is a current member of the board and is seeking her fifth four year term on the governing body.

Chen has been involved in the real estate business for most of her adult life having worked in the Cerritos, Artesia area.

In 2009, she campaigned on a platform of stressing the “importance of student achievement, healthy students/healthy adults, and prudent fiscal management.”

Chen has served on the ABC Unified School District School Board since first being elected in 1997. She was chosen as President of the School Board in 2000, 2004, and 2009. Prior to serving as a school board member, Chen says that she worked as a high school teacher.

Chen is a current member of the board and is seeking her fifth four year term on the governing body.

Chen has been involved in the real estate business for most of her adult life having worked in the Cerritos, Artesia area.

In 2009, she campaigned on a platform of stressing the “importance of student achievement, healthy students/healthy adults, and prudent fiscal management.”

Chen has served on the ABC Unified School District School Board since first being elected in 1997. She was chosen as President of the School Board in 2000, 2004, and 2009. Prior to serving as a school board member, Chen says that she worked as a high school teacher.

English: Silhouette of a ballot box with a ballot

English: Silhouette of a ballot box with a ballot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Incumbent Lynda Johnson

This marks the first time for Johnson to be running as an “Incumbent” school board member, and she has been waging an aggressive campaign via social media, as well as going “door to door,” and sending out mailers to voters.

“I will continue our collaboration so that we can increase academic excellence for all students,” Johnson told voters recently.

Johnson has lived in Cerritos for decades and has already risen to the position of Clerk of the Board since joining the seven member Board.

She is also been a familiar face at campuses throughout the ABC Unified School District since her election.  “I have visited all 30 schools in ABC, I have been in the classrooms of 19 elementary schools, five middle schools, five high schools and even the adult school water aerobics class,” Johnson recently said in an interview.

“I enjoyed meeting with the principals, talking to staff and teachers, and seeing all the wonderful projects made by the students. I am so proud of the tremendous progress and achievements that our schools have accomplished,” she said.

Johnson is a graduate of local ABC schools, past ABC parent and past president of the Cerritos High PTSA and is hailing her endorsements from  Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe, as well as US Rep. Linda T. Sanchez.

ethanChallenger Ethan Robinson

Robinson is running for his first elected office, and has longtime ties to the district as an active parent, former star athlete at Cerritos High School as well as touting himself as being a “strong independent voice” who, if elected “will only have to answer to the community and the voters, not special interests.”

For Yoo, this is her second time facing voters within the past two years, she narrowly lost to Lynda Johnson by less than 30 votes two years ago in a special election to replace Mark Pulido who resigned after he won election to the Cerritos City Council in 2011.

Robinson tells voters that he is “a product of ABC Unified School District.”

“My educational experience within the MGM Program at Mary Bragg, Gonsalves, Carmenita and Cerritos High School gave me an amazing foundation,” Robinson told voters during two recent candidate forums.

“My enthusiastic, well-reasoned, innovative and fresh ideas will guide my feedback and input that will add to the collective asset that is the ABC Unified School District Board whose standards and achievements are exemplary,” Robinson said.

Robinson said he has the backing of current ABC School Board President Celia Spitzer as well as current member Maynard Law.  In addition, Robinson claims support from AFSCME Local #2229, The Hubert H. Humphrey Democratic Club, Assemblyman Isadore Hall, El Monte Mayor Andre Quintero as well as two local former State Assembly Members Tony Mendoza and Sally Havice.

Challenger Soo Yoo

Yoo is campaigning on a platform that she says “supports diversity of student pathways, maintaining a balanced budget, and collaborating with students and teachers to optimize academic achievement.”

Challenger Soo Yoo.

Challenger Soo Yoo.

Yoo is the founder and director of Gateway Academy located in Cerritos and recently said in an interview that she “does not think more policies will solve anything.”

“I don’t think bullying is a problem to the extent where we need to implement more policies upon policy. Sometimes some of these policies are more a political agenda,” Yoo is quoted as telling voters.

Yoo is backed by current Cerritos Mayor Bruce Barrows, Councilwoman Carol Chen and Councilman Joseph Cho, as well as former Cerritos Mayor Grace Hu.

Yoo is a resident of Cerritos and earned a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of California at Irvine and a Master’s Degree at the Westminster Theological Seminary.

Yoo was narrowly defeated by Johnson in one of the closest ABC School Board campaigns ever, coming up short by 26 votes.

“I am working very hard during this campaign, and I am hoping that voters will understand that I am running to help our children and to make ABC Unified School District more successful,” Yoo recently remarked during a campaign appearance.

Yoo is also stressing that her campaign has reached out “to every part of the ABC School District” and claims to have a wide base of support in Hawaiian Gardens and East Lakewood.

 

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