Saam Alikhani – the latest Capo Children First 2010 Candidate.

Saam I Aam.

I love this anecdote:

At Saam Alakhani’s final Board meeting as the “student trustee,” after months of unproductively but stubbornly communicating the interests of students, parents, and taxpayers, he culminated his farewell speech with an announcement that he would now be joining the “Children First” Coalition and running to replace the Board.  Dutifully jazzed by the spectacle of such an accomplished and handsome young man giving his valedictory, the Board rose and applauded.  ONLY Ken “Lopez-Maddox” (credit where due) seemed to actually hear what Saam had said.  “Did you guys hear that?” he hissed at his colleagues.  “He’s running against us!”

It’s funny because it’s true.

So here I am, at Dana Hills High School watching Saam this sunny Tuesday morning, and he’s now the 4th out of 5 candidates to announce from the Capistrano Unified Children First slate.  So far we’ve got two Democrats, two Republicans and an independent.  In stark contrast to the current screwup board, everyone has kids in the district, EXCEPT – what nobody was expecting – the one guy who actually IS a kid in the district.  And who’s probably smarter than all these current place-holders put together.   Okay, here’s Saam’s speech:

Good morning and thanks to each of you for joining me here this morning at my alma mater, Dana Hills High School.

My name is Saam Alikhani and I am extremely honored to announce my candidacy for the Capistrano Unified School District Board of Trustees for Area 4.

I’m sure you are asking, “Why would I vote for such a young person?  What could he possibly bring to this dysfunctional table that is the CUSD school board?”

I am proud to tell you what I will bring to this table.

I have served as the Student Trustee on the current board for the past school year.  I have sat on the dais and have closely observed inappropriate behavior and poor decision making.

School boards are supposed to be non-partisan.   For the past two election cycles, our school board has been influenced by party politics and outside money.  To underscore my firm belief in keeping politics out of the board room, I have registered to vote as Decline to State.  My allegiance is to my constituents and not to special political interests in Orange County.

I will work to restore trust and respect between my fellow board members and the community.  I have witnessed blatant disregard of the public by the current trustees during board meetings.   They even have disrespected me, and on occasion – each other!  This is not acceptable behavior from your elected trustees.

I support the ballot measure to change the way we elect trustees to the by-trustee voting method.    Current board members said they supported this, too.  But I have actually voted to support this change because this will save our district over one million dollars in the next 10 years alone!   The current Board voted to spend over $100,000 of our money on attorneys to fight this reform.  I warned the Board that hiring Mr. Greer was a bad decision.  I researched him and I recommended against hiring him.  The rest of the Board did not listen to me.

The budget crisis for public education is not over.  CUSD cannot afford to waste more than $100,000 on attorney fees or another $100,000 from our general fund on out-of-court settlements to friends of the Board when our students do not have paper in their classrooms, or have to sit in crowded classrooms because teachers have been cut, or have no counselor to visit when they are struggling.

I know what is important for students and their classrooms.  I know what parents and community members expect from their trustees.  We cannot let Capistrano Unified fall apart.

As an elected Trustee, I promise you my every effort:

  • To keep outside interests and partisan politics at bay, so not to adversely impact taxpayers or students.
  • To do everything possible to ensure that academic achievement and quality of education at this award winning district remains at a high level.
  • To be fiscally responsible at all times especially in these economically challenging times and to make sure that students have the opportunity to reach their potential.
  • To work with all stakeholders to make Capistrano Unified a district in which everyone will benefit, not the few elite.
  • To make all of us proud to be a part of Capistrano Unified.

I am a recognized leader in my community.  I have more school board experience than most first time trustees.  I will represent you all far better than Anna Bryson or any other current trustee.

This is what I want to do with my life.  I am willing to put in the time and effort to work for you.   I know that I have the courage, the passion and the dedication to do this for you.

It is time to take our district back and to remove those who represent outside interests.  As trustee, I will restore the reputation and excellence that Capistrano Unified had before this board came into power.

I am not in this alone.  I want to thank my mother, father, sister, etc. for their love and guidance.  They have encouraged me to follow my dreams.

I also want to thank Capistrano Unified Children First for their support.   I look forward to working with John, Gary and Lynn during the campaign and when we become your trustees.

I firmly believe that I can help CUSD recover.  I need your help to do it.

Thank you for coming today and please vote for me, Saam Alikhani for CUSD, on November 2nd

(press release:

Saam Alikhani is a lifelong stakeholder in the Capistrano Unified community.  In his Senior year at Dana Hills High School, Saam was selected as the Dolphin of the Year and was appointed by the Capistrano Unified School District Board of Trustees to serve as the Student Trustee, representing with distinction taxpayers, homeowners, parents, and students within Capistrano Unified.

Saam has advocated for Capistrano Unified before multiple state officials and legislators in Sacramento for more education funding and to emphasize the importance of public education.  Saam’s unique perspective will ensure that the Board of Trustees will act in the best interest of public education and will conduct itself in a fiscally responsible manner.

Mr. Alikhani has pledged to help eliminate the wasteful spending, oppose votes that might benefit friends or associates of any member of the Board of Trustees and work diligently to help rebuild trust and cooperation among all parties within the CUSD community.)

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.