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School Board Candidates Debate Tonight

Trio of household names in Mill Valley - Bob Jacobs, Clifford Waldeck and Leslie Wachtel - vie for two open seats on the Mill Valley School District Board of Trustees.

Although the three candidates vying for two open seats on the  Board of Trustees have been working for weeks to secure support, the race kicks into high gear Monday night with a debate at  (117 East Strawberry Dr.) from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The debate is being hosted by the Mill Valley Council of PTAs in conjunction with the Mill Valley Teachers Association (MVTA) and the California State Employees Association (CSEA). The League of Womens Voters of Marin County is moderating the debate. Questions are being submitted by the audience and read by representatives of the league.

Jacobs, Waldeck and Wachtel hope to replace current board members Judy Sherman and Janet Miller, who both decided not to run for re-election.

Here are brief bios of the three candidates:

Bob Jacobs

While Jacobs hasn’t held public office, he likely won't have a problem with name recognition. Jacobs taught biology and life sciences for 19 years at  before he retired at the end of the previous school year, capping a 42-year teaching career. By Jacobs’ count, more than 2,000 students passed through his Mill Valley classrooms, and he worked for 14 principals over that span.

“I loved education and when I retired I decided that I wanted to help out the school district and still be a part of the educational scene here in a totally different capacity,” said the 68-year-old Jacobs.

Jacobs, who serves as a negotiator for the Mill Valley Teachers Association for the past decade, said he’s confident that his deep local ties for so many years propel his candidacy.

Clifford Waldeck

Elected to the Mill Valley City Council in 1997 and serving until 2005, Waldeck has been on a wide array of boards and commissions over the years. The owner of the now defunct Waldeck’s green office supplies firm, Waldeck is a Mill Valley native and  graduate.

An environmental advocate, Waldeck served on both the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board and the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC).

Leslie Wachtel 

The president of the PTA at Tam High for the past three years, Leslie Wachtel has been involved in the Mill Valley public education scene for nearly two decades. Wachtel was on the Kiddo board for 10 years, was the Old Mill PTA president for two terms and was the chair of the Tam High Foundation for a year.

Wachtel, 55, is married to Mill Valley Mayor Ken Wachtel. All four of their children attended Mill Valley elementary schools. Wachtel said she was drawn to the school board race by the unique challenges facing the district – booming enrollment, shrinking state funding and suppressed property tax revenue - and her ability to broker compromise.

“I work very well collaboratively with people and I’m good at seeing both sides and helping people come to compromise,” she said. “I want the school system to stay as strong as it is. I just have a really deep desire to stay working in this community.”

christine freda September 27, 2011 at 05:06 AM
FYI - Your poll should allow for two choices since there are two spots open for the School Board.

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