Meeting the candidates: Bakersfield City School District

Destinee Sims, Features Editor

With less than two weeks left during the election, Americans across the country are gathering information on their candidates. Local elections, including the open seats within Kern County’s school districts, have been stuck in the shadow of the presidential election.

Bakersfield City School District (BCSD) has several open positions on this year’s ballot, including board member seats three, four, and five. Each candidate was sent a questionnaire, and here’s what the responding candidates had to say:

Board Member #3

Photo contributed by Chris Cruz-Boone.

Dr. Chris Cruz-Boone39  

Job title: Communication Professor, Bakersfield College  

Why are you running for school board? 

  “This is the moment for my candidacy because we have an opportunity to challenge long held norms in our district and reimagine what our schools can be. My priorities if elected would be social justice, the arts, and higher education.  I have written about my vision on my website []”  

What is one thing you hope to change and how? 

  “The urgent issues facing our district are budget, loss of learning and safely re-opening.  However, as we plan our safe reopening I think this is a good time to reconsider teacher initiated proposals, specifically ethnic studies.  The current district board has not taken on this issue and it would be historical to have the largest elementary district in the state be leaders in rolling out updated curriculum.”  

What experience do you bring to the role?  

  As an author and researcher, my professional experience makes me qualified to do the work required of a trustee.  As a mother, I understand the experiences of distance learning first-hand.” 


Board Member #4

Photo contributed by Ben Valdez.

Ben Valdez, 35   

Job title: Businessman/Real Estate Industry   

Why are you running for school board?   

  “As a product myself of the BCSD, as well as raising a nephew who currently is a student in the district, I have a personal vested interest in making sure each student in all areas receives a quality education. I am running to ensure that the schools in are district are preforming at their very best. I am running because I am confident that I can do the job and do it successfully by generating the equity and equality for all of the district’s stakeholders [students, teachers, parents, staff, and the community].”  

What is one thing you hope to change and how?   

  “I wouldn’t say change, but because I believe our district has some of the best educators in the state,I would like to makesure we keep it that way by making our district attractive to future educators both locally and throughout the stateby ensuring our district provides the needed resources to do so. 1Stakeholders: Students, Parents, Teachers, Staff, Community”  

What experience do you bring to the role?   

  “I bring the ability to actively listen and engage with individuals from all walks of life. Problems can only be solved through transparent communication. This is a simple but valuable trait both in business and as a member of a board.” 

Board Member #5

Photo contributed by Brooke Malley Ault.

Brooke Malley Ault39  

Job title: High School Counselor  

Why are you running for school board?   

  “I’m running as an advocate for children, not only as a former teacher, but as a current educator that has been serving students and families in east Bakersfield for the past 12 years. My husband and I, Dr. Michael Ault, a professor at CSUB for the past twenty years, have a son that will soon start his education within the district. I want to ensure that he, and all BCSD students are provided educational equity, are academically challenged, and provided the social and emotional support that all children need in order to become successful adults.”  

What is one thing you hope to change and how?   

  “I would like to redirect resources from the budget to hire more social workers and bring back the counseling positions that were eliminated from the district years ago. When students have their basic needs met, they can focus on learning. Now more than ever, students need that additional support.”  

What experience do you bring to the role?   

  “I attended BCSD schools from K-8 and worked for the district as a classroom teacher for 6 years. In addition to my direct experience with the district, I work with former BCSD students on a daily basis as a high school counselor. I understand the struggles and needs of these children because I have been working with them and their families for the past 12 years.” 

Ian Journey, 34 

Job title: Mechanical Engineer and father 

Why are you running for school board? 

  “I am running because it has become apparent to me that the current BCSD School Board is out of touch with the reality of having young children, both in-school and out-of-school.  Technically qualified professional parents serving on school boards should be the norm around the country, but unfortunately that is not the case.  I am not a teacher or administrator.  I am not a union member.  I am not a career politician.  I believe this school board needs more leaders, not followers.  As a local Professional Mechanical Engineer, I understand that the best outcomes occur when parents, schools, and industry work together to develop and implement core curriculum.  I will use my experience to ensure fiscal conservatism, transparency, and clear communication with parents.  We desperately need fresh ideas and perspectives to lead the next generation of teachers and students. 

What is one thing you hope to change and how? 

  “We need to get our young and most vulnerable students back into the classroom.  Looking at the data on COVID-19 and how it relates to children in the 0 to 17 age range, it is clear that kids handle this virus with little complications. Keeping staff that are at risk safe will require possibly moving some staff out of the classroom. This can be done to accommodate those children that are choosing to stay in an online format.  COVID-19 has shown us we can use online services to teach but it seems abundantly clear that in person school, especially for the youngest children, is best and offers so much more in social/emotional support and learning. 

What experience do you bring to the role? 

  “In addition to being a devoted husband and proud father of two students of the district, my real-world experiences that will benefit our district include: 

  10+ years of K-12 education facility design and construction throughout the State of California, Instructor Kern High School District Energy Academy at Independence High SchoolCourt Appointed Special Advocate, CASA of Kern County Board Member, Workforce Development Board (W.D.B.) for Kern, Inyo, & Mono Counties Member, W.D.B. Youth Committee Mentor, C.S.U.B. Runner Alumni Mentorship Program Talent Committee Member, Kern Initiative for Talent & Entrepreneurship (K.I.T.E.) Co-owner of local small business, Baker’s Outpost, est. 2017 Graduate, Kern Leaders Academy, Class of 2013.”