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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

At Emery a Second Place Finisher Rises to Top: the Selection of Board President Cruz Vargas

Democracy Stalls at Emery Unified School District

Politics Trumps Fair Play

The People's Choice, Barbara Inch, Skipped Over in Favor of the Rubio Supporting Vargas


New School Board President Cruz Vargas
The people's second choice but the
Board's first choice.
Even after he was caught in a lie, the
Board majority 'Vargas for President'
steamroller rolled on.
In a controversial move at their end of the year December 13th meeting, the Board of Trustees of the Emery Unified School District disregarded the people's choice of Barbara Inch and instead elevated  the less popular Cruz Vargas to the position of Board president for a one year term.  The Board's move to crown Mr Vargas as president also gives a big thumbs up to the Superintendent of the Schools John Rubio, a man strongly disliked by the teaching staff at the struggling district.
The 4-1 vote (Inch dissenting) for the bellicose Mr Vargas, a strong supporter of Mr Rubio, will likely fortify the disputatious Superintendent as he continues on his scorched earth campaign against Emery's teachers, taking last place on his watch among Bay Area school districts in teacher retention.

The Board seemed to be saying they like the direction the district is going in by elevating Mr Vargas, one of the Superintendent's biggest supporters. The move, an affirmation of the status quo of an entrenched Superintendent, caused some Emery watchers to muse about the future of EUSD, a district reeling from a flurry of bad news coming in the form of a devastating academic study from Stanford University and continuing State reports of falling test scores.

School Board Member Barbara Inch
The most popular elected official in
Emeryville is critical of Superintendent
Rubio's public policy. She's the people's
choice but not the Board's choice.  They
want a Rubio flunky as Board President.
Further highlighting the political nature of the Vargas pick is the fact that open lying on the part of member Vargas was not enough to sway the support he has from his Board colleagues.  Mr Vargas last October 5th told colleagues on the City School Committee on an open mic that the "vast majority of parents at the school" are supportive of putting a police officer in the school, a lie that City Council member Dianne Martinez exposed in front of the cameras.  Mr Vargas' supporter on the Committee and on the Board, Bailey Langner used her position as Committee Chair to chastise Ms Martinez and deny that Mr Vargas had lied.  However, a viewing of the video of the meeting shows Mr Vargas in fact did lie; a fact apparent to meeting attendees (and video watchers) all except Ms Langner.
Still however, the revealed and scurrilous fabrication told by member Vargas at the October meeting was not enough to stop the 'Vargas for Board President' steamroller.

Member Inch has been the Board's sole critic of Mr Rubio's policies and the vote to bypass her regardless of her popularity with the people in favor of the obsequious Cruz Vargas, is conspicuous.  The December 13th vote sidelining Ms Inch and elevating Mr Vargas, the second place choice of Emeryville voters in a two person race, also sends a message to the people of Emeryville that their vision for their school district as personified in their choice for School Board, is not something this Board is interested in.
Emeryville voters like the vision of Barbara Inch over that of Cruz Vargas, who with 2773 votes, won her November 2016 election to the Board with more votes than any person has ever received for any office in Emeryville electoral history.  Mr Vargas, with 273 fewer votes, came in a distant second place in the two person race.
Ms Inch's popularity with Emeryville voters however was not enough for the School Board to rise above the politics at play and they voted instead for the second placer Cruz Vargas who promises to retain and buoy Mr Rubio as chief at Emery even as the district sinks.


Elected Official
Election Year
Votes Received
Percent of Vote
Difference from Barbara
Votes
Percent
Barbara Inch*
2016
2773
44.74%
---
---
Nora Davis**
2003
765
29.55%
2008
15.19%
Dick Kassis**
2005
1220
35.79%
1553
8.95%
Ruth Atkin**
2007
921
25.05%
1852
19.69%
Cheryl Webb*
2009
879
27.37%
1894
17.37%
Jennifer West**
2009
855
36.45%
1918
8.29%
Jac Asher**
2011
924
27.80%
1849
16.94%
John Affeldt*
2014
1255
32.53%
1518
12.21%
Dianne Martinez**
2014
1219
33.32%
1554
11.42%
Donn Merriam***
2014
730
18.92%
2043
25.82%
John Bauters*
2016
2312
22.68%
461
22.06%
Cruz Vargas***
2016
2500
40.34%
273
4.40%

*= Most votes EUSD; **= Most votes City Council; ***= Votes for EUSD Board

Emery USD had several years without or uncontested elections

Barbara Inch received more votes than any other candidate for local election in 
Emeryville history. While acknowledging that her election had a larger voter 
turn out, her percent of the vote was greater than others, the largest percentage 
in modern Emeryville history.