Jay Hansen, California Medical Assn. lobbyist and appointed SCUSD school board member for Area 1 is running for election to the seat he now occupies. He recently issued a press release crowing about big name endorsements and campaign donations. Through his under the dome connections he's gained the endorsements of Supt. Tom Torlakson, Senate Pro-Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assemblymember Dr. Richard Pan. He claims he's amassed ten times the money of his two opponents. In many elections those would give him an unbeatable advantage; but down ticket races like school board elections are looked at differently by voters.
Hansen's lobbyist day job doesn't give him any education bona fides that voters like to see when reading the ballot statements. The most motivated voters in these races are usually parents who have a vested interest in who serves on the school board--their children. They don't care about endorsements from those who have no connection to their local schools. An endorsement from the local teachers union usually has more weight than one from the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Nor is money as big a factor in school board elections in Sacramento City Unified. Candidates no longer run in at-large races. This move was supported in part by voters who wanted elections driven by ideas and issues, not the money necessary to finance an at-large campaign. The district has been divided up into seven areas where it's possible to walk and knock at every door over the course of a campaign. A mail campaign isn't as effective as an army of volunteers canvassing the area and talking to voters. There's no word on who Hansen's volunteers might be. Since he's a political appointee with no prior interest or involvement in school district issues, he has no built-in constituency.
An endorsement from SCTA would help greatly, but is that likely? Hansen is a supporter of the CORE waiver or so he would seem to be. SCTA does not support the waiver, and claims that the waiver document is fraudulent, since the meetings with teachers it says took place never happened. Not one sitting board member voted on the waiver or even raised questions about it. Silence speaks volumes in this case.
It remains to be seen what effect all the money and big name endorsements will have on Hansen's race. We're thinking not as much as he hopes.