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Losing Candidates File for Open School Board Seat

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By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

December 23, 2014  -- Three of the candidates who ran unsuccessfully for the Santa Monica-Malibu School Board in November are taking a second shot, vying this time to be appointed to an open seat on the seven-member board.

Perhaps the leasing contender is Ralph Mechur, who finished fifth in the November 4 race for four open seats. He received 11,522 votes, for 15.68 percent of the tally, according to final election results. That put him less than 400 votes behind fourth-place winner, Oscar De La Torre, who received 11,900 votes, or 16.32 percent of the final vote.

Also seeking the open seat are Dhun May, who came in sixth place in November with 5,169 votes, or 7.03 percent of the total; and Patricia Finer, who came in last place, with 5,148 votes, or 7.01 percent of the total.

Seeking the slot as well is Jake Wachtel, who came in last place when he ran in 2012.

The three are among eleven candidates running for the seat left vacant when former Board Member Ben Allen was elected to the California State Senate in the Nov. 4 election.

Among them are Tom Larmore, a prominent land-use attorney and civic leader taking his first stab at public office; Dr. Sion Roy, who is vice president of communications for the Santa Monica Democratic Club and heads the district’s health and safety committee, and Jennifer deNicola of Malibu Unites, a group pushing for new toxins testing at Malibu High School.

Also among those who didn’t previously run are Larry Droeger, David Hays and Jon Kean. Another applicant, Kurt Schwengel, planned to withdraw his name. Schwengel, a kindergarten teacher at Franklin Elementary, said he was told an employee could not sit on the board unless willing to resign.

The candidates are scheduled to be interviewed publicly by the board at its January 15 meeting, with a decision expected later in the month. The winner will complete the remaining two years of Allen’s term of office.

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