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ELECTIONS: ALHAMBRA : School Board Hopefuls Stress Their Experience


Candidates for the Alhambra City and High School Districts board are stressing educational experience and business expertise as they campaign for two open seats.

Five candidates, including 12-year incumbent Dora Padilla, are running in the Nov. 6 election.

Padilla, 56, a homemaker and school board member since 1978, is running for her fourth term. "The condition of California schools, especially Alhambra, calls for knowledgeable, experienced leadership," Padilla says. She wants to see through several projects that began during her tenure, including the installation of a districtwide computer system and renovation of the district's three high schools.

Ronald Hirosawa, 46, an assistant principal at Hollenbeck Junior High in Boyle Heights, says he wants to bring basic values to education.

"I believe everybody has to study and work hard in order to learn," Hirosawa says. If elected, the L.A. Unified administrator also wants to work with the state to introduce a more equitable way of funding local school districts.

Charles Ling, 52, a director of admissions at Poly Languages Institute in Pasadena and its international student adviser, says that, if elected, he would bring 15 years of business experience to the school board.

"My experience in financial management may be useful to the Alhambra district, which is experiencing budget cuts," says Ling, who earned an MBA from Pepperdine University.

Sophie C. Wong, 53, is a businesswoman who co-owns a real estate company and an Alhambra thrift and loan. She is on the board of directors for the United Way West San Gabriel Valley region, the San Gabriel Valley Red Cross and the Alhambra YMCA. She is also on the Salvation Army Advisory Board and is a past president of the Monterey Park Chamber of Commerce.

She also co-founded a women's scholarship fund for Cal State L.A. and has served on advisory boards for the university and for East L.A. Community College.

If elected, "my primary goal will be to link our community and business resources together to support our schools," Wong says. "Only by forming a community-business-school team can we ensure a bright future for . . . our children."

The fifth candidate is Jeffrey Schwartz, 36, an independent contractor and business manager.

Schwartz, who attended Alhambra schools, said he was prompted to run for office when he concluded that his son wasn't receiving the same quality of education he had as a child.

If elected, Schwartz wants to make the board more accessible to teachers and parents. He would form a volunteer committee to write grant proposals and would attempt to resurrect "Opportunity Room," an Alhambra district program that gives problem students a second chance at educational success.

Schwartz says he would also draw on his business experience to encourage more local firms to participate in Alhambra's "Adopt-A-School" program and would attempt to regain federal funding for an education program aimed at refugees.

The Alhambra districts serve about 20,000 students in kindergarten through high school and covers all of Alhambra and portions of Monterey Park, Rosemead and San Gabriel. Candidates are elected at large to four-year terms.

Charles C. Scanlon, the other member whose term is expiring, is not running for reelection. He has served 16 years on the board.

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