In Los Angeles County's only truly wide-open local race this fall, none of the three incumbents on the Conejo Valley Unified School District Board of Education will be seeking reelection on Nov. 5.
That leaves 12 relatively unknown candidates struggling to get the attention of voters, who have not turned out in large numbers in past elections.
For example, in 1983, less than 15% of the eligible voters turned out in a race among six candidates for two school board seats; in 1981, only 10% voted.
This year could be more of the same, with few emotional issues to stir the voters. Nevertheless, the new board will oversee such matters as how to spend proceeds, expected to amount to $500,000 to $1.5 million, from the upcoming state lottery.
A hot topic four months ago was Measure K, an initiative that would have raised property taxes in Thousand Oaks in order to hire more teachers and reduce class sizes. But, since its defeat by a more than 3-1 margin in last April's special election, the issue has faded.
Although most of the 12 candidates say they were opposed to the initiative, it could haunt the three who actively supported it--Barbara Sponsler, Tina Longenecker and Therese Hughes.
That will not happen to the one Measure K supporter on the school board whose term ends in November, Patricia Schroeder. In June, the 10-year board veteran decided not to seek reelection, saying she wanted to spend more time with her family.
The other two seats open on the board are those of Measure K opponents Gary Pederson and Lori Kissinger.
Therefore the 12 candidates say they are left with the traditional debates about improving academics and fiscal management in a district that will school 18,000 students with a general-fund budget of $52 million.