By J.P. Crumrine
Current Hemet Unified School District Board President Paul Bakkom, who represents the Anza area, has chosen to retire after one term. The other three directors — Vic Scavarda, Area 1 (Idyllwild) and “Ross” Valenzuela and Joe Wojcik, Area 3 (Hemet) — whose terms expire this December have all filed their candidacy papers.
Seeking to succeed Bakkom, both Maurice Chacon and Megan Haley have qualified for the November ballot. But the nomination period will remain open until 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 13, since the incumbent is not on the ballot.
The other three incumbents are unchallenged in the general election, held on Nov.4.
“It’s better to leave when people want more rather than when they’ve had enough,” Bakkon said, explaining his decision. “I enjoyed the opportunity and am glad to have had the experience.”
While Bakkom is a former teacher, he stressed that he was always trying to find the middle ground and the balance among the needs of teachers, the administration and the community.
As a trustee, he observed that “running a school district is like steering a huge oil tanker. When you see a problem, you can’t just zig immediately.” Change takes preparation and time, it is not immediate and reflexive.
Still Bakkom summarized his four years with satisfaction “… that I was able to do things to help the kids in the district.”
In the 2010 election, Bakkom unseated incumbent trustee Phyllis Petri who had served Area 2 since 1990.
Beginning in December, Bakkom and his wife, former Idyllwild physical education teacher Holly Guntermann, will have more time to watch the salmon in the Tilton River outside their other home in Washington. Bakkom garnered more than twice the votes Petri received.
J.P. Crumrine can be reached at [email protected].