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Eight vying for four county board education seats

School unification hot election topic
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
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Eight candidates vying for four education board spots will compete in a race marked with talk of school district reorganization. The Placer County Board of Education has four of its seven trustee spots open. Incumbents are seeking re-election in three of the four seats. In Area 1, southeast Placer County, Roseville resident Gordon James Hinkle will face community volunteer Tami Brodnik for the position. In Area 3, western Placer County, state disability services analyst Warren Jorgensen will challenge incumbent Scott Gnile. Auburn resident Pam Robie Hart is running for the Area 4, Auburn and upper Placer County, seat against incumbent Don Brophy. For the Area 5 seat, Upper western Placer County, incumbent Lynn Oliver will face opposition from Applegate resident Ryan Murphy. Recently, the county office of education released a preliminary report about the possible financial advantages of each of the school districts in the county consolidating into one district. The study showed that if nine districts unified, there could be a possible $6.9 million in new monies. The figures, however, are preliminary and do not take into account debt, reorganization costs, facilities, personnel costs and more. Another election issue is budget spending that the following candidates plan to address if they are elected or re-elected. Hinkle, a deputy press secretary for the state department of corrections, said he wants to run to continue improving education in the county. “As a parent and father of two, my main goal is to see Placer County continue to provide top-notch education,” Hinkle said. “I will work to ensure parents are heard, that schools will maintain their high level of academic excellence and to strive to see special education students get the resources they need.” His opponent, Brodnik, said her 30-plus years of experience in volunteering and working in education makes her a qualified candidate. “I am passionate about my county and also education,” Brodnik said. “I just believe that being a trustee for the Placer County Office of Education would be a good fit for me to give more to the community.” Area 3 incumbent Gnile has served as a county education board trustee since 1992. He said he is running to represent his area’s parents and taxpayers. “The county office of education budget is a multi-million dollar budget,” Gnile said. “The taxpayers need to have somebody who pays attention to where the money is being spent. They need representation to hold the county office accountable for their budget.” Gnile’s challenger, Rocklin resident Jorgensen, said he is running to represent the western Placer County area because he believes he can make sound financial decisions and prioritize budget issues. “I see this as a great opportunity to serve my community and the children and the taxpayers of Placer County,” Jorgensen said. “The bottom line is I’m trying to get the kids the best education our county can provide.” Hewlett-Packard business analyst Pam Robie Hart said she wants to represent the Auburn area on the board so she can “make a difference.” The Auburn resident said she’s attended school board meetings as a member of the public for the past 20 years. “I figure they could use a new perspective especially from a non-school administrator,” Hart said. “Just the plain vanilla member of the public who’s interested in what’s going on.” Her opponent, Brophy, has sat on the board for 12 years and served twice as president. He said he initially didn’t think he would run again for another four-year term but changed his mind after he received encouragement from some locals. “I want to continue my personal advocacy and commitment to public education including students, parents and the public,” Brophy said. “This is my way of giving back to the community and the world, actually, in making available opportunities for students for the future.” In the Area 5 race, Murphy said his longtime experience in the community, including attending schools in his area, will help make him a successful board member. “I will have a non-bureaucratic, common-sense look at the issues facing our schools,” Murphy said in a prepared statement. “Our children are the most important factor in schools, we should put all other agendas aside.” His opponent, Oliver, was appointed to the board last August. Prior to her appointment, she served as a trustee in the Alta-Dutch Flat school district for 16 years. “I’m running for Placer County Office of Education board in order to continue working toward the goal of ensuring quality education for every student in our county,” Oliver said. The Journal's Jenifer Gee can be reached at jeniferg@goldcountrymedia.com or post a comment.