By Brian Park and Jim Shilander
Two new faces will join the Capistrano Unified School District Board of Trustees, thanks in large part to San Juan Capistrano voters.
In Trustee Area 1, which covers parts of San Juan Capistrano, Dana Point and San Clemente, Capistrano Beach resident Amy Hanacek breezed to an easy victory over Karin Schnell, 9,600 votes to 4,579 votes.
Hanacek, along with President Gary Pritchard in Area 5 and Vice President John Alpay in Area 3, received endorsements from the district’s teachers union, as well as parent coalition Capistrano Unified Children First.
“(Schnell) and I were both able to conduct a campaign that was able to focus on quality education for the students. It was respectful and positive,” Hanacek said of the campaign. She will take over for Jack Brick, who steps down after serving one term.
Meanwhile, in Trustee Area 2, which covers parts of San Juan Capistrano, Mission Viejo, Ladera Ranch and Las Flores, San Juan Capistrano resident Jim Reardon came away with the victory over Carol McCormick and Don Franklin Richardson. Reardon will take over for Sue Palazzo.
Reardon finished with 7,295 votes, or 49.1 percent of the total votes cast. However, he also pointed out that the number of under voters—voters who chose not to make a selection—exceeded his closest competitor McCormick, 4,592 to 3,567.
“We have to bring those people into the conversation also,” said Reardon, who also emphasized the importance of transparency on the board during his campaign. “I’m going to be the enemy of hidden agendas…We all have principles that we use to guide us, and I’ve tried to make mine clear to people.”
Reardon, who was endorsed by Hold CUSD Accountable, an opposing coalition to Children First, was frank in saying he fully expects to be part of a minority on the board.
“I’m not a union-endorsed candidate. I’ve had my differences with them in the past. But the union is a full partner with CUSD—the state legitimizes their presence,” Reardon said. “The majority is going to have to work with the teacher’s union to solve (this year’s budget). I’ll be constructive in that regard.”
Hanacek, when asked how she foresees the dynamics of the board playing out, said, “I’m not going to go into it with prejudiced notions. To say that I’m going to be a slam dunk with any of the other trustees is a disservice to them and myself.”
Elsewhere in the CUSD elections, Pritchard and Alpay won their reelection bids in their respective areas. Pritchard defeated William “Bill” Perkins, 7,252 votes to 5,057 votes. Alpay held off a spirited challenge from Steve Lang, 8,057 votes to 7,050. Yolanda McNamara, a third candidate who did not actively campaign, received 1,568 votes.