Orange County voters will choose who guides the county forward in education

By Emily Rasmussen

The Orange County Board of Education promotes student achievement, offers leadership, services and resources for Orange County school districts, educators and the community.

In addition to approving the annual budget for the Orange County Department of Education, policies that the Board of Education enact can range from instruction materials, funding and to school safety. Trustee Area 5 encompasses South Orange County, including Dana Point, San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano.

Linda Lindholm has held the Area 5 seat since 2014 and is not running for reelection, with five candidates vying to take the seat. Here’s a summary of what each candidate has to bring to South Orange County’s future in education.

Sources of information were taken from candidate forums, statements of candidacy and candidate websites.
Kimberly Clark

  • Has experience as a public school site-administer, counselor and director of an educational nonprofit organization and is completing a master’s degree
  • Aims to be student centered
  • Priorities on school safety, focusing on mental health
  • Focus funds for inside of the classroom

Mike Dalati

  • Is an educator
  • Dalati was not immediately available for comment, but according to a 2016 race for the South Orange County Community College District race, has experience as an ORT Jewish college professor and is the co-founder of OC Latino Outreach.

Dan Draitser

  • Is a mortgage lender
  • Draitser could not be reached for comment

Mary Navarro

  • Is a former assistant superintendent, school principal and teacher
  • Hopes to expand after-school enrichment and arts programs
  • Top priority is security at schools for students and teachers
  • Focus funds for inside of the classroom

Lisa Sparks

  • Has 25-plus years of education experience and is currently the dean for the Chapman University School of Communication
  • Aims to prepare the “whole student” for college, career and life experiences
  • Plans to expand the number of charter schools
  • Focus funds for inside of the classroom

For more information on these candidates, visit,, and The Capistrano Dispatch could not find a website or candidate statement for Dalati or Draitser.

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