Voters gave the nod to retired educator Jim Smith to join the Hemet Unified School District Board of Trustees and returned incumbents Dr. Lisa DeForest and veteran Marilyn Forst. John Graham, who has local Idyllwild business ties, came in fourth out of five candidates. Boyd Lachlan Roberts finished last.
Smith said he is thrilled to have been elected and proud to be bringing his experience as a teacher and educational administrator to the board. “I’m sure there’ll be a learning curve and I’ll be keeping my ears open,” said Smith. “I’m not coming in as if I need to put out fires.” Smith said he was pleased voters approved both Proposition 30 and Measure U. “That [passage of both] made the work of the board easier. Voters were convinced that schools needed support and for that I am glad.”
DeForest, who has a chiropractic practice in Hemet, returns to the board also pleased with the passage of Measure U. “This allows us to do the continued infrastructure work for which bonds were originally approved,” she noted. “I’m excited to be given the opportunity to serve again.”
DeForest, the top vote getter in the board election, said she would dedicate her service to improving educational opportunities for district students. “I hope we’ll be able to increase our school year,” she said. She observed that with California’s resources, students should be able to come out on top rather than ranking below other states and countries.
DeForest plans to bring the same energy and dedication that characterized her previous years of board service. “Service is important to me,” she said. “When I first moved to the Hemet valley I knew I wanted to eat, sleep and breathe my community.”
Marilyn Forst said her 34-year career as a teacher in the HUSD system gave her name recognition among voters, as did her endorsement by the Hemet Teachers Association. “I think the endorsement helped me, and having taught for so many years, I just think maybe they [the voters] liked me. She also appreciated the passage of Measure U. “Technology is what it’s all about for students and passage of Measure U will give us the chance to upgrade facilities,” she noted.
As to the passage of Proposition 30, and the chance for increased education funding, Forst was skeptical. “We’ll have to see what happens with [Proposition] 30,” she said. She worried that Sacramento might find ways to use the increased funding for purposes other than education. “We’ll wait to see what they do for our district.”
And although first-time candidate John Graham did not win this time, he intends to run again. “During the campaign, I learned what I should have done differently,” he said. “I know what I need to do to be successful. I want to run again to make sure our kids get the technical, mechanical and practical training that will allow them to go out and get jobs.” Graham noted that Riverside County is short of technical workers and technical and craft training is needed in the school system.