Eleazar Elizondo Thinks Qualifications Matter for OC Board of Ed

Eleazar Elizondo and Melissa Fox

Eleazar Elizondo at a meeting with activists including former Assembly Candidate Melissa Fox

I asked Eleazar Elizondo a while ago what he thought of the statements produced by his opponents for the Orange County Board of Education District 1 seat, so went and visited some of their websites.  This was his reply, which I’ve reformatted and edited lightly, but enough so that any mistakes are probably mine.  (The delay in publication?  Also on me.  Hey, I’ve been busy!)

I began by asking Elizondo what he thought were the main differences between him and his opponents.  He began by questioning their relevant experiences for the position — and what voters are reading into ballot designations.  Sometimes complaining about ballot designations is derided as cheap trickery, but in this case it seemed to be part of a substantive objection to their qualifications.

You read their candidate statements and they are pretty vague. The biggest difference between us is my experience with education. One opponent is a home school parent and he thinks this qualifies him to call himself a “teacher”; another is a part time-hourly instructor in an adult vocation program and yet he calls himself a “teacher.”  Finally, the third states he has some adult vocational experience.

Alas we live in a time when inflating your credentials is the norm, we need only look at the Yahoo CEO for an example, but there are many others.

I believe the standard for the voters in identifying “teachers” is this: Do you work with children, in a classroom, from say 8 am – 3 pm?  If not, then you are not a teacher.

That was just a warm-up.  He seemed to take personal offense at the “fake teachers” running against him.

As a person who is a true educator, my opponents’ qualifications are as thin as can be.

I am particularly offended by their disregard and disrespect for the teaching profession. Becoming a teacher is a very difficult and costly process and I doubt they would be so quick to try to pass themselves off as lawyers or doctors.

I believe these actions by my opponents are born of arrogance and greed; two things we certainly don’t need in pubic service.

I wanted to know more about this “arrogance.”  (The greed — which rightly or wrongly I took as a reference aimed at the ethically and veracity challenged, twice-bankrupt, opponent with almost no apparent income — I thought that I could figure out for myself.)

Even though I have been a classroom teacher, 4th & 5th grade, I think an elected representative needs to know how to listen and ask questions.

Context is very important when making decisions the rest of us have to live by and there are few things more dangerous in public life than the arrogance which leads to political grandstanding.

No one has all the answers. Our system is based on cooperation, we must work together and build consensus.  If you have an agenda and have all the answers, then I doubt you will act in the best interest of the public.

Elizondo seemed concerned that his opponents, as people at best tangentially experienced with the public edication system, simply were not prepared for this particular job.  He seemed to think that for unqualified people to run for this office just because it’s there is an insult to the teaching profession, to parents, and to public education in general.

This is all particularly troubling because we are talking about educational leadership, so the impact of the public policy decisions made will have far reaching implications.These individuals simply do not have the the requisite experience or crententials to be elected education leaders on the county board of education.  This fact is what motivated me to run for this position. One could argue the limited experiences of two of my opponents could be the basis for a seat on a community college board, but that is for another place and time.

In the end, the decision is for the voters to make, but as a parent and taxpayer, I know what I am looking for in educational K-12 leadership and I hope my neighbors do also.

The interesting thing about Elizondo’s writing here, which matches what I’ve heard him say in person, is that he really wasn’t planning on seeking the seat.  He’s running because two of the names who got onto the ballot when Long Pham bailed for his apparently doomed Assembly race were a person who objects to the public education system, as well as science — and one who is generally viewed as greedy, lying, power-mad, and unbalanced.  (The remaining candidate, Kenneth Nguyen, doesn’t have a website, but does have some nice signs and Santa Ana City Council endorsements.

The notion of running for a seat not for personal advantage, but to prevent others from feeding an extremist agenda (or from profiting from the job), is sort of unusual — but then, from the moment that Long Pham chose to run for City Council to try to help Republicans clear the 69th Assembly District seat for nominal Democrat Tom Daly, which meant moving their candidate elsewhere, this has been a very unusual race.  At least there is one candidate who seems like he belongs there.

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-disabled and semi-retired, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally ran for office against jerks who otherwise would have gonr unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.) His daughter is a professional campaign treasurer. He doesn't usually know whom she and her firm represent. Whether they do so never influences his endorsements or coverage. (He does have his own strong opinions.) But when he does check campaign finance forms, he is often happily surprised to learn that good candidates he respects often DO hire her firm. (Maybe bad ones are scared off by his relationship with her, but they needn't be.)