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Austin Ogden Reflects on the Dublin School Board Race, Looks Forward

November 16, 2012

On November 6, voters across the nation marched to the polls to cast their ballots that would determine who would occupy the White House for the next four years. In every state and in almost every municipality, there were a variety of propositions, bond measures and local elections to determine. It was no different in the city of Dublin. Two City Council seats were available. For the Dublin Unified School District (DUSD), three positions on the Board of Trustees were in play. These slots were occupied by incumbents Amy Miller, Dan Cunningham and Board President Greg Tomlinson. On the surface, this appeared to be a fairly innocuous matter – three candidates for three positions. All of this changed when a fourth candidate emerged. His name is Austin Ogden. Austin is a 2012 graduate of Dublin High School and is currently a student at Diablo Valley College. Though he did not ultimately succeed in his goal to capture a seat on the board, it was a fascinating odyssey and one that we wanted to explore. recently had the opportunity to sit down with Mr. Ogden to discuss this journey.

Austin’s family had previously lived in San Leandro and Castro Valley. They eventually made their move to Dublin where he enrolled as a fifth grader. Ogden took full advantage of his career at DHS where he played football, wrestled, was the Rally Commissioner in his senior year and participated with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). While he didn’t have pre-determined plans to jump into politics, Austin cited a singular moment that got his wheels turning. In January, he attended a fundraiser for (fellow Dublin High graduate) Congressional candidate Eric Swalwell. At the time, Swalwell was vying for the District 15 slot that had been occupied for decades by Pete Stark. Ogden was stimulated by the discussion on policy matters and was further invigorated when some in attendance encouraged him that he pursue a run for the school board.

Austin’s gradually forming position was that it was important to have a voting representative on the board that had actually matriculated through the Dublin schools. He allowed himself to fanaticize about this possibility everyday for the next two months – thinking that he would drop the idea if he had lost any enthusiasm for the effort. Conversely, his desire grew and he began to dedicate more time into this possibility. It started with having discussions with some of his teachers whom he relied upon as mentors. The discussion was open-ended and centered upon what would best benefit students and staff alike. The dialogue then evolved into the realities of actually running a political campaign. His parents eventually realized that Austin was very serious about this endeavor and they enthusiastically supported his mission.

To better understand the evolution of Austin’s campaign, reached out to one of his early endorsers, Dublin High School ROP and Multimedia teacher Mitch Eason. How did you come to know Austin Ogden?

Mitch Eason: “As a junior, he was a student in my Multimedia class. The following year he was in MMII.” Over the course of two years, what was your impression of Mr. Ogden?

Eason: “At first, he seemed to be a fairly quiet and driven young man. But as I got to know him better, he revealed a very good natured and funny side of his personality.” When Austin formalized his commitment to this campaign, did he seek out your guidance?

Eason: “To a degree – yes. I was happy to endorse him. But he took it a step further and asked me and other staff members “how can we make your job easier” and “how can we move away from teaching to the test?” It was refreshing to have this type of dialogue.” What were your early thoughts on his candidacy and how do you feel now that the final results are in?

Eason: “I know the type of person that he has been in the classroom and I really felt that he could do it. Regardless of the result, I’m proud of him. Frankly, I don’t consider this to be a loss for him. He’s accomplished something that we can all learn from.”

In our conversation with Mr. Ogden, we gave him the opportunity to reflect upon expectations and surprises yielded from this experience. Included in this was a chance to restate his priorities. Your platform ran on three tenets. What were they?

Austin Ogden: “I wanted to ensure that we are supporting critical thinking for all students, to recognize multiple learning types and to tailor curriculum to fit those needs and to make the Regional Occupational Program (ROP) a top priority. Not all graduates will go onto college.” Tell us about the process of actually running a campaign.

Ogden: “It is so much. I first needed to research how to submit my application. By state law, it was necessary to establish a fundraising bank account. I then had the challenge of contacting businesses and households to solicit their support. I was very fortunate to have supporters helping me, but by late fall, I was investing 60-80 hours per week into my campaign. Many of these activities included precinct walking, waving signs, phone banking and sending emails. As a funny aside, I was also chased down the street by a German shepherd and almost had a beer spilled on me by an overzealous citizen.” Upon reflection, did your perceptions of running for office meet your reality?

Ogden: “I’ve learned so much. I knew that it would be a lot of work, but you cannot understand that until you actually do it. The fundraising aspect was also very interesting. For me, it was somewhat difficult to make that request, but it is necessary.” This election yielded two members to the Dublin City Council. This also means that there will be a vacancy on the school board once David Haubert is elevated. Do you have an interest in this open position?

Ogden: “Yes, I’d be very willing to pursue this position.”

As we parted ways and shook hands, Austin called me over to his car. He wanted to ensure that this item was mentioned. He pointed out a “FOB” sticker on the back of the vehicle. The decal referred to a “Friend of Brian.” When the Ogden family migrated to Dublin years ago, parent and neighbor Brian Beasley and Austin became quick friends – often playing video games and bike riding together. Unfortunately, Mr. Beasley tragically and prematurely passed away earlier this year. Mr. Ogden noted that Brian was one of his first supporters and that he dedicated his entire campaign to his memory. Donations in the memory of Brian Beasley may be made to Dublin High School Athletics at the school site (more information available here).

Dublin High School ROP Media Lab

  1. June Raimondi permalink
    November 16, 2012 8:57 am

    Very good article. Good luck to Austin in seeking the 4th seat. He has already proved he deserves to be appointed.

  2. November 17, 2012 8:32 am

    Wonderful and well written article! Thank you for it!

  3. Sandy York permalink
    November 17, 2012 4:34 pm

    Fantastic article! Austin, go for the gold, you definitely deserve it.

    Sandy York

  4. Licia Bomfim permalink
    November 20, 2012 4:29 pm

    Great article!

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