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DECISION 96

Meet the Candidates : Ventura County Board of Education

In all, there are more than 130 candidates running in key races in Ventura County this year. On the following pages, you will find capsule summaries of their backgrounds and their positions on key issues.

November 03, 1996

Four candidates, including one incumbent, are on the Nov. 5 ballot for two seats on the board, which performs a variety of administrative functions for the county's 21 school districts. The election is seen as a battle for ideological control of the five-member panel, which is led by a conservative Christian majority that has repeatedly clashed with Supt. Charles Weis. Conservative Wendy Larner is seeking a second term representing Area No. 3, which includes Ojai, Camarillo, Santa Paula, Fillmore, Piru and Somis. Incumbent John V. McGarry is not seeking reelection in Area No. 5, which includes south Oxnard, La Colonia, Ocean View and Port Hueneme.

AREA NO. 3

Wendy Larner

Age: 53

Occupation: Homemaker

Education: Bachelor's degree in sociology and an elementary teaching credential from San Jose State University

Background: Larner, an Ojai resident and a target of a recall campaign last year after voting with fellow conservatives on the board to ban Planned Parenthood and AIDS Care from teacher training workshops, is among the panel's most high-profile members. She is active with the Ojai Crisis Pregnancy Center and the Ojai Unified School District's Family Life/Health Committee.

Issues: Larner said she is running again because she believes people want a public servant on the board, not an "agent of the education system." She promises a common-sense approach to education rather than "fads and experiments." She believes schools should provide an objective education with emphasis on the "basics" to teach children to be independent adults rather than "21st century global citizens according to some bureaucratic vision."

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Janet Lindgren

Age: 68

Occupation: Businesswoman

Education: Bachelor's degree in home economics from Iowa State University

Background: A Camarillo resident, Lindgren was a member of the Oxnard Union High School District board for 22 years. A past president of the Ventura County School Boards Assn., she is a member of Assemblyman Nao Takasugi's Education Advisory Committee.

Issues: Lindgren said she entered the campaign because the county school board majority is "destroying a good system." She believes the publicity generated by the board's actions gives an erroneous negative impression of county schools that are achieving higher test scores and lower dropout rates than state averages. She supports rebuilding a climate of trust and cooperation among board members, the administration and the community. She stresses her experience as part of a school board team that has helped districts statewide solve personnel problems.

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Area No. 5

Paul Chatman

Age: 51

Occupation: Senior loss prevention manager at JCPenney in Ventura

Education: Attended Iowa State University and several community colleges

Background: Chatman is president of the Ocean View School District Board of Trustees, on which he has served since 1989. He is also president of the Ventura County School Board Assn. and a member of Assemblyman Nao Takasugi's Education Advisory Committee. He received the California Teachers Assn.'s Gold Award in 1996 for being an outstanding public official in the region.

Issues: Chatman said he is running because he is "incensed" with present board members who have "waged war with the superintendent in their quest for power." He opposes what he describes as the board majority's attempt to "impose their radical ideas on public education." He believes the board's role must be clearly defined and that board members should review school district programs and past decisions of the current board.

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Ron Matthews

Age: 49

Occupation: Businessman

Education: Attended Ventura College

Background: An Oxnard native, Matthews is the son of Robert K. Matthews, who served on the Oxnard Union High School District for 18 years. He is active with the Oxnard First Baptist Church and holds views that are similar to those of the present board majority. He is married and has three school-age children.

Issues: Matthews believes California's "experimental" approaches to teaching math, English and other subjects have resulted in students with substandard skills and should be rejected in favor of a "back to basics" curriculum. He believes communication between educators and parents should be improved, so that parents rather than the state and federal governments have a greater degree of control over what children are taught. He maintains that district infighting between the board majority and administration has wasted too much time. Yet he believes the board majority provides needed checks and balances to a liberal administration.

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