Starting WCCUSD Board Elections Analysis 1995-2014

ballot

As the next election approaches for the West Contra Costa Unified School District (among other jurisdictions), I thought it would be a good time to analyze previous recent elections in WCCUSD. I’ve set up a project on Github where I detail how I gathered this information and store an R script for analyzing the information.

I was able to go back to the 1995 election. Starting with this election, there have been 10 WCCUSD board elections, 65 candidacies (47 unique candidates), and 25 victors (2 seats then 3 seats are up for each two elections).

Continue reading Starting WCCUSD Board Elections Analysis 1995-2014

WCCUSD BOE Election: Main Institutional Endorsements

There are 10 candidates running for 3 seats on the West Contra Costa Unified School District Board of Education. 2 incumbents are running; Charles Ramsey is not running for re-election.

One aspect of the campaign process is getting endorsements from various organizations and the main local paper. Just like I did in 2012, here is the current scorecard:

 12345678910
El Cerrito Democratic Club (0)
Central Labor Council (2)XX
County Democratic Party (3)XXX
UTR (3)XXX
Local One (4)XXXX
Contra Costa Times (3)XXX
SFER Action Network - West Contra Costa (2)XX
CCSA Advocates (2)XX

The Candidates

  1. CHESTER R. STEVENS (Hercules)
  2. MISTER PHILLIPS (Richmond)
  3. ELIZABETH “LIZ” BLOCK (El Cerrito)
  4. OTHEREE CHRISTIAN (Richmond)
  5. PETER NICHOLAS CHAU (Richmond)
  6. VALERIE CUEVAS (Richmond)
  7. ELAINE MERRIWEATHER (Richmond, Incumbent)
  8. RAQUEL DONOSO (Richmond)
  9. AYANA KIRKLAND YOUNG (Hercules)
  10. MADELINE KRONENBERG (El Cerrito, Incumbent)

The Endorsers

  1. The Democratic Party is pretty much The Party in West County. The El Cerrito Democratic Club has been an active party club in the district for a long time. (New ones for Hercules and West County have started.) Endorsements require a 60% threshold, which may explain the lack of any endorsement this time.
  2. The Central Labor Council is the county version of the AFL-CIO. They are connected through the construction program for the school and the unions for employees. They are a big “door hanger” presence, too.
  3. The county Democratic Party has an elected Central Committee. As I was saying, the Democratic Party is The Party around here.
  4. The United Teachers of Richmond (UTR)  is the district’s teachers’ union.
  5. Public Employees Union, Local One is the union for most of the non-teacher employees in WCCUSD.
  6. The Contra Costa Times is the local paper that pays the most attention to WCCUSD.
  7. SFER Action Network – West Contra Costa is a local summer-only student project of the Students for Educational Reform, a group some consider an “astroturf” group.
  8. CCSA Advocates is the advocacy arm of the California Charter Schools Association. It’s a state-wide organization, but some people are making them an issue at the local level this election.

Update: 10/16/2014

The Endless WCCUSD Bond Debt Cycle

The Contra Costa County Taxpayers’ Association Director asked me recently why the West Contra Costa Unified School District needed a 7th school construction bond as if there was some carefully thought-out construction-based planning process behind it. I chuckled. I shared with him these steps for how the wheel keeps going ’round:

  1. Survey/push-poll people with leading questions late in an odd-numbered year.
  2. Find a tax rate that will give a comfortable margin over 55%.
  3. Calculate a total “bondage” amount based completely on that tax rate.
  4. Attach a permissive scrambled “project list” for everything and anything.
  5. Include front-end ballot text language to stay “within legal debt limits” along with buried back-end language that the district may have to seek a debt ceiling waiver. (For the last 2 bonds, the district has been over the statutory debt ceiling on waivers.)
  6. Put it on a June or November even-year ballot. (These are the only allowed dates for WCCUSD Prop. 39 elections.)
  7. Use “scope-based” “budgeting” to burn through the money while holding the tax rate for that specific bond withing the projected limit.
  8. Repeat two years later.

The district pats itself on the back for staying at target individual bond tax rates, while a total school bond tax rate that is already the highest in all of California continues to grow more and more.

It’s That Time Again: Watching the Election Calendar

California Elections Calendar- When and Why (Mystery Education Theater 3000) 2014-01-30 00-11-27

One of the main functions of the West Contra Costa Unified School District is to see how many school bond measures can possibly be passed and then spend the money in as profligate way as possible (“scope-driven”). We have 6 bond measures already and have the highest school bond property tax rate in the State. For the last two bond measures, we’ve been over our debt limit. In my three years on the bond oversight committee, I’ve never heard a peep about requiring more bond funds for any specific school construction needs.

But, Prop. 39 bond season is upon us again, so, naturally, our school board is making noises about yet another bond measure “for the kids.” The survey has already been taken, and it seems, if you phrase the questions right, the (adult citizen) babies are ready to have more candy taken away again. What’s the next step?

This is where an elections calendar comes in handy. You can see that June 3, 2014 is the next election date for a Prop. 39 bond measure. The deadline for filing is March 7. The last regular school board meeting before this is February 26, so look for this meeting as the decisive event leading up to yet another bond election.

WCCUSD Board of Education Election 2012: Main Institutional Endorsements

There are 4 candidates running for 2 seats on the West Contra Costa Unified School District Board of Education. One aspect of the campaign process is garnering endorsements from various organizations and the main local paper. Here is the current scorecard:

 Randy
Enos
Todd
Groves
Antonio
Medrano
Robert
Studdiford
El Cerrito Democratic ClubX
Contra Costa Central Labor CouncilXX
Democratic Party of Contra Costa CountyXX
United Teachers of RichmondXX
Public Employees Union, Local No. 1XX
Contra Costa TimesXX

The Endorsers

The El Cerrito Democratic Club has been the only active party club in the district. (A new one in Hercules is starting up.) It combines a candidate Q&A forum with a members-only ballot at the end.

The Central Labor Council is the county version of the AFL-CIO. They send out a questionnaire and then interview and endorse candidates.

The county Democratic Party has an elected Central Committee. Candidates fill out and submit a short questionnaire. A subcommittee interviews candidates. Then, this subcommittee recommends candidates to the full committee.

The teachers union also sends out a questionnaire first. (The answers are distributed to all teachers.) The union executive board interviews candidates and passes on a recommendation to the general council of representatives from all of the schools. At the general meeting, the candidates get to make a brief pitch to the whole assembly before a ballot is taken.

“Local 1” is the union for most of the non-teacher employees in WCCUSD. Their board interviews candidates and decides who to endorse.

The Contra Costa Times is the local paper that pays the most attention to WCCUSD. They interview the candidates before deciding. This time they are posting the video of the interview in the endorsement editorial.

This post was originally published on September 19th, but was updated and republished once the Contra Costa Times endorsed.