I wasn't impressed by the “Candidates Forum”. My disappointment didn't have anything to do with the candidates; but rather with the format of the event. Time restrictions made it difficult to learn anything about the candidates. Each of the 4 candidates (there were two no shows, Kelly Russell and Margaret De Longchamp) started with a two minute statement, and then a one minute rebuttal. They were allotted one minute to answer questions from the audience that were picked by a moderator from the Chamber of Commerce.
Mrs. Lara and Mr. Sanchez listed the district successes as reasons why they should be re-elected. Mr. Layte did not take the time to let us get to know much of his personality; instead, he recited his resume and the things he wanted to change. His delivery was direct, to the point and very serious. Mrs. Wohlmuth Poulter chose a more personal approach. She told us her Beaumont history and how much she values the schools. Unlike Layte, she provided no specific ideas.
To me, the highlight of the night was when the moderator asked the question I had submitted. I wanted to know what the candidate's believed their relationship should be with the administration. This question was posed to Mr. Sanchez and Mr. Layte. Mr. Sanchez quoted Ronald Reagan with "Trust but verify." He explained that you had to trust the professionals but verify. He also said he felt it was important to maintain a good relationship. Mr. Layte agreed with Mr. Sanchez; but added the need for transparency. He told us that it was difficult to get a copy of the budget from the administration. When he finally got the budget, he received 700+ pages on his flash drive; but the 8 pages he needed had not been included. Once he finally received all the pages, he said he found out the district was keeping too much money in reserves. He will be pushing for more transparency if elected.
We didn't learn anything new from Mrs. Lara or Mr. Sanchez. We learned Mrs. Wohlmuth Poulter was a likeable person but we heard no specific ideas. From Mr. Layte we learned he has the endorsement of the Beaumont Teacher's Association; and we heard some specific ideas. His position on the reserves and the budget is very similar to the position expressed by BTA president Trina Brown, which isn't surprising since the BTA is endorsing Mr. Layte.
In short, we need another night with our candidates to get to know them better. They need more time to express their positions.