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Treser Osgood, Nemer and Llanusa earn seats on school board

It’s official. Come December 12, the two newest members of the Claremont Unified School District Board of Education will be Nancy Treser Osgood and Dave Nemer. Incumbent Steven Llanusa won the third open school board seat in Tuesday night’s local and municipal election.

Ms. Treser Osgood was the frontrunner, having received 2,735 votes as of Wednesday afternoon.

“It feels wonderful. I am feeling so grateful to the entire community,” she said.

She emphasized that her victory was not the result of a solo effort. “I’ve had so many wonderful supporters that opened their homes for me and invited me to meet their friends and neighbors.”

Campaigning was the hard part, the newly minted school board member said. Ms. Treser Osgood notes she is used to serving on a governing board.

“I’m fully prepared to jump right in on the school board,” she said. “Having attended meetings for the last year and a half, I’ve got a good idea of the issues.”

The five candidates, that also included Claremont Realtor Paul Steffen and local educator Joe Salas, “got along famously,” Ms. Treser Osgood said.

The candidates’ mutual respect ensured a positive experience.

“My hat is off to Paul and Joe for working as hard as they did on their campaigns,” she said. “I want to thank and congratulate them.”

Ms. Treser Osgood is ready to roll up her sleeves and work alongside Mr. Nemer, Mr. Llanusa and the rest of the board on pressing district matters such as implementation of the Common Core form of assessment and associated curriculum and the development of a Local Control Funding Formula accountability plan.

She had special praise for fellow board newcomer Mr. Nemer, who with 2,018 votes as of Wednesday afternoon came in second in the election.

“I’m looking forward to tapping into Dave’s excitement and new ideas. As a former teacher, he brings a wonderful depth of experience to the board,” she said.

Mr. Nemer, who taught in the Claremont Unified School District for 30 years, has shared that his decision to run for school board did not come without some sacrifice. In his recent post-retirement years, he has worked as a CUSD substitute teacher, almost exclusively in the Claremont High School math department. He will need to step back from this job during his four-year term, because you cannot be a current district employee while serving on the school board.

While he will miss the kids, Mr. Nemer is elated with the election results.

“It’s very gratifying having so many people who think I can be a good school board member,” he said “It’s a big responsibility and I’m very humbled by it. I’m really committed to trying to deliver on their confidence in me.” 

Mr. Nemer admits he didn’t have the same confidence about his board prospects on Tuesday. He spent election night in the company of campaign supporters, watching votes trickle in via Internet from the County of Los Angeles Registrar-Recorder. The initial reports, which reflected mail-in votes, indicated a win for Mr. Nemer. Then, there was a two-hour lag before the ballots from the polls were posted.

“I could kind of imagine it going either way. I was trying to be prepared for both outcomes,” he said.

With his board position now secured, Mr. Nemer has spent much of his time fielding congratulatory phone calls, emails and Facebook messages.

“It’s nice,” he said. “The response has been real positive.”

Positive thinking was the order of the day on Tuesday for Mr. Llanusa, who said he was “nervously optimistic” that he would win his bid for re-election. Claremont has typically had a low turnout for local and municipal elections, Mr. Llanusa pointed out. With only 9,428 ballots cast by 25,920 voters as of Wednesday afternoon, this contest was no exception.

Having secured the endorsements of the Claremont Faculty Association, the COURIER and the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Mr. Llanusa was concerned his supporters might be complacent, considering him a shoo-in, and fail to hit the polls. He is delighted that is not the case and looks forward to his third term on the Claremont Unified School District Board of Education.

“I am thrilled to have been trusted and supported by the community,” Mr. Llanusa said. “I was very clear about what I expected to do in this term and I feel that my reelection shows support for those ideas.”

Mr. Llanusa is certain that Mr. Treser Osgood and Mr. Nemer will be great additions to the Claremont school board.

“I think that we have a great foundation on the board already and that they will just help us reach greater heights,” he said.

Despite the good news, each new school board member expressed some disappointment in the sluggish voter turnout. Mr. Nemer asserts that a strong school board benefits everyone in the city.

“Some people say, ‘My kids finished school a long time ago,’ as if it then doesn’t matter at all,” Mr. Nemer said. “It’s still important to the community, to the future, to property values. Even if someone wants to think strictly out of self-interest, you still want the school district to be strong and successful.”

Ms. Treser Osgood observed that throughout the country, many turn out for each presidential election, but few cast their vote for candidates and issues closer to home.

“It’s ironic, given that local elections will impact us the most,” she said. 

She aims to ensure that those who did vote in Tuesday’s election will continue to feel engaged with the school district. Additionally, Ms. Treser Osgood said she hopes that those who didn’t vote can be drawn into the fold.

“We want them to be more excited about being involved,” she said. 

Among local voters who were engaged, election night posed a challenge for those assigned to cast their ballots at Pomona College’s Edmunds Ballroom, according to Claremont photographer Sonja Stump. Ms. Stump, who serves as inspector for her voting precinct, said she was troubled when she found out about the venue beforehand. There is only one parking lot for the ballroom, which is located near the intersection of Sixth and College streets, and it has only a few spots. The adjacent streets have been designated as no-parking zones. 

“I called and said it’s not going to be a good situation,” she related. “I said if you’re not familiar with the campus, it’s hard to find and there’s no parking.”

Ms. Stump’s concerns went unheeded. The result, she said, was a number of angry voters and a lower-than-usual election turnout for her precinct. So many Claremont voters filed complaints with the Registrars office in Norwalk, in fact, that a representative from the office came out to investigate the situation. The representative told Ms. Stump that a number of voters in the precinct chose to vote provisionally at a more convenient location.   

“She really could see firsthand the problems with having a polling place on a college campus that many people couldn’t find, and there was literally no parking at certain times,” Ms. Stump said.

She can see the value of using a college campus for a national election, because it can help capture the participation of the younger voting population. Ms. Stump hopes, however, that the venue will not be used again in the next local and municipal election.

Precinct complications notwithstanding, Claremont voters have spoken and election season is over for local school board members.

The next regular school board meeting, set for Thursday, November 21, will be the last for current board president Mary Caenepeel and board member Jeff Stark, both of whom opted not to run for re-election.

—Sarah Torribio

storribio@claremont-courier.com

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