The Pleasanton Unified School District Board of Trustees will look very different after November, as seasoned trustees Joan Laursen and Mark Miller opted not to seek reelection, clearing the way for two newcomers after what will be the district's first election under trustee-area voting boundaries.
In both cases, the new trustee will be serving in elected office for the first time. But the community is fortunate to have one Area 2 candidate who is well-versed in district operations and an Area 5 representative-to-be who is well-experienced in government decision-making.
We recommend Laurie Walker for PUSD Trustee Area 2, and we support Justin Brown, who is poised to be appointed to Trustee Area 5 as the only candidate to file for that seat.
Walker, who is truly part of the fabric at Amador Valley High School as an administrative secretary, is running against parent and businesswoman Urvi Shah for northcentral Area 2. Another candidate, Christine Lutz, also qualified for the ballot but decided to bow out and not actively campaign.
With more than 16 years supporting Pleasanton schools, first as a parent volunteer including PTA leadership roles and currently as board treasurer for the Pleasanton Partnerships in Education Foundation, and then as a school site secretary with the district for six years, Walker has institutional knowledge of PUSD that is unmatched on the Area 2 ballot. We appreciate her campaign's focus on strengthening school-to-community relationships, improving deteriorating school facilities, maintaining fiscal sustainability and providing a fresh perspective.
It is great to see a passionate parent like Shah come forward with such interest and drive to help the school district, but we had hoped to hear more actionable ideas and specific insights from the newcomer, especially as someone with less experience with district and school site operations. We encourage Shah to pursue a district-level committee to bolster her civic resume to the level that a new trustee needs, while also making a tangible impact on PUSD for the better.
Residents in Trustee Area 5, which covers southcentral and southeastern Pleasanton, will have one of the rising stars of civic leadership in town representing them in Brown. He will be appointed without an election since he was the only candidate for the ballot.
A thoughtful and receptive voice on the Pleasanton Planning Commission for the past six years, Brown proved himself to be a quality decision-maker on many projects and policies with impacts throughout the city. We're happy to see Brown want to bring that mindset, plus that of a parent with three young children in local schools, to the PUSD board.
And his priority list as a trustee demonstrates his strong grasp of school district issues: putting what's best for students first, fiscal responsibility, teacher retention, school safety, facility upgrades and better communication with families.
We would be remiss if we didn't express our disappointment at the lack of participation from other residents in Area 5 to compete for their local school board seat. Positive public discourse relies on an active citizenry, and it's a shame there will not be a contested election for an otherwise open trustee position. Thankfully Brown stepped up to ensure effective representation.