By Marisa Guerra Echeverria and Robin Parmelee, Head Section Editor and Staff Writer
// For the upcoming Governing Board election on Nov. 8, members of the Lafayette School District (LAFSD) will vote to fill the District’s three open Board seats in a race of six candidates.
Below, Acalanes Blueprint presents candidate profiles, in alphabetical order, of the LAFSD Governing Board’s 2022 Election candidates. Journalists gathered information in these profiles through a combination of interviews and research. Transcriptions of interviews with candidates will also be available upon request. Please email requests to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Katy Foreman (Small Business Owner):
Katy Foreman is running for election. Foreman has an extensive background in local school organizations, having served on the Lafayette Elementary School Parent Teacher Association (PTA) board as a Vice President (VP) of legislation, President, and Parliamentarian. Currently, she is on the Stanley Middle School PTA board as VP of Legislation. She served as a rapport chair, a collaborative group of district administration, school board members, parent leadership, and LPIE. She also runs the ‘No Place for Hate’ program and some Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) groups at Lafayette Elementary School.
Throughout her experience in school organizations, Foreman maintains that children’s education is integral to American society.
“I believe that public education is the cornerstone of our democracy. I’ve seen Lafayette do a really good job at least for our students, for my students. I’ve watched them thrive in our schools. I can see that knowing how to be a critical thinker and be well informed is clearly very important, not just in our community, but worldwide,” Foreman said.
Foreman’s candidate statement lists her priorities towards providing a robust education system that benefits children in various ways.
“I’ll prioritize offering a rigorous, comprehensive curriculum, maintaining our district’s fiscally conservative practices, and supporting an educational approach that respects the whole child, including physical, intellectual, and emotional development,” Foreman’s statement said.
Her campaign website is www.katyforeman.org/.
Niels Larsen (Business Owner / Coach):
Niels Larsen is a Lafayette resident and former LAFSD student. Although he campaigned for election with running mates Robb McSorley and Sarah Lind in the Back to Education Slate, he stepped down from the race in late September.
Larsen released a public statement on social media to announce his resignation, which he provided to Acalanes Blueprint.
“I am just a Dad who wanted to help my community and provide another perspective on how to improve our public schools. As I stated many times on this campaign, I decided to run because of the mantra ‘if not me then who?’” Larsen said in the statement.
Regardless of his retirement from the race, his name remains on the ballots.
Following his resignation from the race, Larsen encourages community members to continue their involvement with the School Board and in the election process.
“I hope many of you will stay engaged. Show up to school board meetings, read the agenda, and ask tough questions. I plan on continuing to do so as a parent with children in our schools. Our kids deserve it,” Larsen said.
Larsen’s campaign website, shared with LAFSD’s Back to Education slate candidates Sarah Lind and Robb McSorley, is www.back2education.org/meetyourcandidates.
Sarah Lind (Business Owner/Parent):
Sarah Lind is on the ballot for the election, and is a Lafayette parent as well as proud business owner. Lind is also a member of the member of Back to Education slate.
Blueprint attempted to contact Lind for an interview several times but could not schedule one or receive a candidate statement.
One of Lind’s top priorities as a Governing Board candidate is to maximize external communication between the community and District schools .
“I will engage parents through multiple channels of communication to guarantee the best possible understanding of what needs to be prioritized in our schools. I will strive to understand the impact of every decision, so student development is maximized and they can be creative thinkers and problem-solvers who are prepared to become responsible, ethical, and productive citizens,” Lind said on her shared campaign website.
As a parent of two LAFSD students, Lind aims to put parent voices first in School Board discussions if elected.
“While my first objective will be to listen to the voices of parents and the community at large, as a board member I will commit to placing parent concerns at the forefront of our discussions and keeping academic success at the pinnacle of the Board’s focus,” Lind said on her shared campaign website.
Lind’s shared campaign website is www.back2education.org/meetyourcandidates.
Robb McSorley (Retired Police Officer):
Robb McSorley, a Lafayette resident and former LAFSD student, is on the ballot for election. However, it is unclear whether he is continuing with his campaign. Blueprint attempted to contact McSorley for an interview several times but could not schedule one or receive a candidate statement.
McSorley, who is part of the Back to Education slate with fellow candidates Sarah Lind and Niels Larsen, did not attend the LAFSD Governing Board Candidates Forum with his slate members. The League of Women’s Voters, Diablo Valley chapter, hosted the event on Oct. 3.
On his shared campaign website, McSorley, who is a former police officer, emphasizes the importance of funding safety measures in District schools.
“If I am elected to the Lafayette School District Governing Board, I will work to locate the funding needed to bring back a dedicated School Resource Officer to be shared by the four elementary schools as well as Stanley Middle School,” McSorley said on the website.
McSorley’s shared campaign website is www.back2education.org/meetyourcandidates.
Dave Smith (Appointed LAFSD Governing Board Member):
After being appointed to join the LAFSD Governing Board in June 2021, Smith seeks to be formally elected into the Board. A Lafayette resident and father of two LAFSD students, Smith initially applied to the Governing Board in 2021 to provide a parent’s perspective during pandemic schooling.
As a parent, one of Smith’s main priorities is to expand communications between the parent community and the Governing Board.
“One thing I’ve really focused on is community engagement, which includes both communication out, what are we doing so people have a clear understanding of that, but also communication in, which is through town halls and surveys and [from] all these other volunteer positions, we are able to bring in voices so we can make the best decisions so that it’s a partnership between families and schools, between teachers and families…” Smith said.
As an incumbent in the LAFSD Governing Board, Smith envisions the role of public schools as providing a welcoming atmosphere and laying foundations for future leadership.
“Additionally, our schools need to shape the leaders of today and tomorrow by teaching skills that cultivate kindness and mental wellness, equipping bridge builders with curiosity and empathy, and inspiring a culture of inclusion and belonging,” Smith said on his campaign website.
Smith’s campaign website is www.daveforlafayette.us/ .
Rob Sturm (LAFSD Governing Board Member/Attorney):
Rob Sturm is running for reelection after serving five years on the LAFSD Governing Board. He is also the chief litigation officer and senior VP for the CSAA insurance group, as well as a volunteer on the California Earthquake Authority Advisory Panel. As a parent of three LAFSD students, Sturm aims to provide stability, institutional knowledge, and collaborative leadership on the future board.
If re-elected, Sturm aims to further advance his goals for higher standards of academics, mental wellness, and inclusion for District students.
“I think we’ve been doing great work over the past number of years, and I think it’s an ongoing activity and we’re in the process of continually improving…student wellness would be one ongoing [issue], attention to academics would be too…and continuing to work in diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging,” Sturm said.
In his candidate statement, Sturm discusses his experience as the Governing Board’s current president and his pride in the work he has accomplished with his colleagues over the years.
“It has been an honor and privilege serving our wonderful community on the Lafayette School District Governing Board since 2017, and as its President (Board-elected) each of the past two terms (2020 to present). I currently seek reelection because I believe I’ll provide critical stability and expertise, valuable institutional knowledge and continuity, and strong collaborative leadership,” Sturm’s statement said.
Sturm’s campaign website is www.robsturm.org.
For further information on this year’s local Governing Board elections, such as the Acalanes’ Union High School District’s (AUHSD), please refer to “The District’s Seven-Candidate Race to the School Board Finish Line” in our Print Issue 2 (published Oct. 14, 2022).
Photo by Helen O’Neal, Online Editor-in-Chief