Dublin Unified School District Trustee Candidates Offer Closing Campaign Statements
DUBLIN, CA–On October 5th, 2016 OneDublin.org helped to create an environment where all prospective candidates for School Board Trustee could participate in a debate forum. The event was hosted at the DUSD Board Room. The platform was provided to the public and was recorded for the OneDublin.org website. Clearly, the purpose was for all engaged voters to hear from each candidate as there are no less than four positions in play. Specifically, there are three positions available for the full/four-year term and one position in the “short”/two year term.
The Dublin Unified School District has experienced unprecedented growth in academic achievement over the past ten years under the leadership of Superintendent Dr. Stephen Hanke. Dr. Hanke recently retired from his role earlier this spring and his successor is Dr. Leslie Boozer. Much of the cause of concern for residents/families is centered in what can be characterized as rampant residential housing development in all areas of the city. This enrollment growth is associated with direct impacts upon all school sites within the District. While the physical evidence of this development is easy visible in areas that extend to east of Fallon Road, there are also newly completed or planned housing developments that are present west of San Ramon Road.
The thesis of this piece is not to assign responsibility/ownership for these developments or past decisions. Rather, it is an opportunity for the current and incumbent candidates to make their closing case and to offer their visions for the future. We decided to ask just two questions and we listed their responses that mirror the order provided in the official County of Alameda Voter Information Pamphlet. The questions are first posed to those vying for the “long seat” (four years) and then the “short seat” (two years).
Question 1: In the course of this campaign for School Board Trustee, what has been the most important thing that you’ve learned and why?
Xiaozhao “Betty” Huang: “It is important for a leader to have great vision, but it is more essential for the leader to combine the strength of each of their team members. Working together, we can make the vision come to a reality. I am working with a team that includes an analyst for school budget deficit issues. I am also working with parents, high school students for the overcrowding issues. I am working with the current board members, administrators, principal as well as parents for the best interest of all the students.”
Dan Cunningham: “The most important thing I’ve learned over the course of the campaign is that people are passionate about our City and our Schools. At times, the passion can lead to things being said or written that might be construed as harsh; however, at the end of the day, I know that people in Dublin care and are willing to work to make our City and Schools a better place to live. We might not always agree on the direction to head but we all agree we want Dublin to be a great place to live.”
Joe Giannini: “This has been quite the experience for me. I began my first experiences with the School Board six years ago with a very defensive, bitter, mindset. The more I educated myself, and collaborated with more involved members of the community the more I learned. I feel that I have now become a more productive member of the community. I joined the District Optimization and Facilities Master Plan Committees. I began to feel that I had something to offer our community, so I decided to run for last year’s appointed position for Trustee. Even though I was not happy with the outcome, I maintained my drive to be involved and make a positive difference in our community. I have been walking door to door myself, for this campaign, speaking with numerous citizens, holding meetings with students and leaders within our community, in an effort to lend an ear to each concern, thought and idea. What I have taken away from this campaign is a better understanding that most people have the best intentions, but they are not conveyed in the best way. The underlying concern is what needs to be attended to. I have also learned that many members of the community appreciate explanations and the time someone takes to give those explanations. It is imperative to take community concerns and figure out a way to address them, working with different disciplines within the city to come up with solutions that benefit most. I want our community to continue moving forward and achieving high standards and to achieve this as a Trustee, I must be willing to listen, learn, teach, and to collaborate.”
Amy Miller: “That this is not a ‘thankless’ job. The negative tone of both the national and local election has at times consumed me. However, during this campaign season I’ve realized the great amount of support we are fortunate to have in Dublin. I’ve learned that many people appreciate the work we do and my representation on the school board. This was humbling and enlightening because it provided the reminder I needed that the election cycle is temporary, but the work I get to do as a Trustee has an impact and makes a lasting difference.”
Gabrielle Blackman: “I’ve found that many of Dublin’s residents share the same views re. the issues facing our schools, the impact of past decisions, and what should be done now. All agree a 2nd high school will open a new chapter for Dublin, alleviating crowding at DHS and its traffic, while eliminating the long commutes of students in the east. More importantly, a 2nd high school will provide Dublin with a new amenity for the community, bringing people together and enhancing civic pride.”
Sameer Hakim: “This campaign has strengthened my belief that people care about education for our kids. Every Dubliner I met along the way wanted a better education and opportunities for all kids. They shared their issues, concerns and ideas to make our schools better. I have learned to communicate and be accountable. I am thankful to them for trusting me. The campaign will end but these friendships will remain.”
Dan Cherrier: “I have found many Dublin residents are concerned about trying to squeeze up to 5,000 students in the existing High School that was built with a capacity of 2,500. This issue affects all students. Many voters have joined me in my desire to make the second High School the number one priority and to hold off on all other projects until the true costs are known and a funding plan can be developed to bring the new High School on-line as soon as possible.”
Question 2: No one knows you better than you. So, what professional qualities and/or personal characteristics represent your greatest strengths when you consider the position?
Zuang: “I was a graduate from an art school. I then transferred to nursing program in U.S. At the beginning it was very hard with all the challenges: language difficulty, culture shock, and totally different area of professions. However, I was able to become an excellent nurse who also possesses the quality of nurturing. With my perseverance, focus, openness, proactive attitude and my out of the box thinking, I can handle hard challenges. I am a cost conscious person who cares about our tax money, bond money as well as the big school budget deficit. I was also an accountant prior of my nursing career. I found possible areas to balance school budgets with the help of other experts on the team.”
Cunningham: “I bring a strong background in accounting & finance as well as proven leadership ability and a willingness to listen and learn. Being on the school board is more than attending meetings and telling people what you think. It requires advocating for our students; not only in the district but at the state as well. I have demonstrated that I can lead and am willing to hear others when making a decision. I know how to make the difficult decisions and keep our students interest in mind.”
Giannini: “I’m passionate, dedicated, and driven. I have a vested interest in making the DUSD the best it can be. I have been heavily involved in the City and particularly in Dublin education for years. Consequently, I have a broad, deep knowledge base of the challenges facing our community as well as the achievements that we have made. I have the ability to collaborate with others and continue to move forward. Through my 21 years as a Police Officer, I have honed the ability to make hard decisions. I have the expert ability to look at evidence, understand it, and to challenge it, if I need to. I fully understand that I may have to make choices that I personally, may not like, but are for the benefit of the community in its entirety. In this position, I will be responsible for decisions that will affect Dublin for years to come, and I am willing to accept. I will also be accountable to the community and understand the need to be fiscally responsible and to plan for the future. I’m an honest and forthright person who is trustworthy, in my personal life and career trust is a key to success.”
Miller: “A characteristic of my disposition that best reflects my aptitude for being a Trustee is balance. My leadership is balanced; I can command as well as listen & remain open minded. My passion is balanced; I enthusiastically advocate for what I believe in, and can also put aside my priorities to make decisions that best serve our community. My communication is balanced; I value transparency, and I am also sensitive to confidentiality and appropriate disclosure. I serve with a balance of pragmatism and heart, which is also how I live my life.”
Blackman: “My greatest strength is the perspective I bring, one that pushes the envelope, embraces transformative ideas, and inspires others to think outside the box. I am passionate about innovative learning programs that advance today’s education to help build a better foundation for our kid’s future. The depth of my experience and campaign platform has garnered the endorsements of The Independent, Silicon Valley Chinese Association and Dubliner’s For Change.”
Hakim: “Effective experience leadership, sincere effort and getting it done are my claims for this position. Volunteering for five years in our schools, I can connect with the parents, teachers, staff and administrators to understand issues/concerns. Empowered by knowledge of serving in LCAP/DOC/SSC and completing masters in governance, I put student learning and fiscal solvency as key criteria for making policy decisions. I bring rigor, resilience and perseverance to the board.”
Cherrier: “As a Principal Engineer, I have managed several large complex multidiscipline projects and successfully delivered them on-time, on-budget with a minimum of disruption. This required tact and understanding of the political process to satisfy various diverse groups of stakeholders and to reach consensus on controversial issues. With a decade plus of service to our schools, I can make a positive impact on the decisions facing our Board of Trustees.”
In this very critical election cycle, OneDublin.org would like to thank all seven candidates for DUSD Board of Trustee positions for their cooperation and willingness to share their thoughts on these very important issues. The language and tenor of the publicly hosted debate forum in October was both informative and civil. We are grateful that all candidates have seemingly demonstrated a consistent demeanor and appear to possess the best interests of the school district and its students. DUSD may be entering into a very interesting fiscal era in the near future and we need our best leadership characteristics to move forward. We wish the best of luck to all of the indicated candidates.