Carlsbad Unified board candidates navigate rough election cycle

Carlsbad Unified board candidates navigate rough election cycle
Like the city of Carlsbad, Carlsbad Unified has moved to district elections. Courtesy photo

CARLSBAD — Like every other race in the city, the run-up for the Carlsbad Unified School District Board of Trustees Area 1 seat is heated.

Also, Carlsbad Unified is undergoing its first district elections as incumbent Veronica Williams battles Melanie Burkholder for the seat.

Williams, who holds a degree in math and earned a certification in the California School Boards Association Masters in Governance program, was first elected in 2010.

Among her listed accomplishments are refinancing Proposition P to save $11 million without extending the bond loan, being part of building Sage Creek High School and helping develop Measure HH, the $265 million school bond proposed this election cycle.

Burkholder, meanwhile, holds a doctorate in counseling and was a former U.S. Secret Service agent. She ran for City Council in 2016, but withdrew several months before the election.

In addition, Burkholder serves as a member of the Magnolia PTA and was an active leader in the Non-toxic Carlsbad Campaign, resulting in the city no longer spraying Round-Up on school property, along with other city open space and parks.

Safety is her top priority, and as a former Secret Service agent who was assigned presidential details, she said is the only candidate, or even active board member, with the knowledge of how to reinforce safety on campus.

She said the $265 million school bond, Measure HH, has a focus on beefing up school perimeters, entrance and exit points, cameras and other measures. Additionally, she wants to tackle the $3 million budget shortfall and environmental concerns on school property.

Measure HH is a $265 million request from the district and its board to renovate schools, improve security and upgrade technology infrastructure. Courtesy photo

“We do a ton with very little funding in Carlsbad,” Burkholder said. “We have to figure out how to change the funding to make it more fair for the students. It’s a per pupil allotment and that’s not OK.”

Williams, though, said her top priority is also safety, including a bullet-free environment, student success and saving taxpayers money through fiscal responsibility. She points to her experience and accomplishments as why she is best suited to retain her seat.

As for the future, Williams said it is critical for the district to continue pushing forward with innovation and technology.  

“Student success means providing a strong foundation for every student who attends schools and making sure they graduate,” she added. “We are in a really good position now. We’re pushing … to be innovative in how we approach schools.”

As for budget shortfalls, one reason for those are due to the state reducing one-time funds by half ($1.7 million for the district), although the net amount is $1.1 million thanks to a $642,000 increase in ongoing revenue.

Both, though, have come under fire from supporters of their opponents. Williams is being questioned for her involvement with the Thunder Rugby Club (now Carlsbad Thunder Rugby), while Burkholder has been scrutinized for allegedly wanting to arm all teachers on campus.

Burkholder said she is against arming teachers because, first, it’s illegal in the state of California to arm teachers. In addition, it is also illegal for a person with a concealed carry weapons permit to come on to a school campus after passage of AB 424. More importantly, she said, not everyone is comfortable with handling a firearm.

“You don’t push that on anybody,” Burkholder explained. “We have a big mental health problem in this country with people having access to weapons that should not. We have sworn officers (on campus) and I’m not opposed to that model.”

As for Williams, she said she was only a volunteer when the club was suspended by the California Franchise Tax Board for failing to file taxes and owing $50. Media reports state she was listed as the chairwoman, but she said she’s only ever been a volunteer.

“The club was mismanaged by the former director and parents banded together so kids could keep playing rugby,” Williams said. “Right now I’m currently volunteering to update the club’s website.”

Like the city of Carlsbad, Carlsbad Unified has moved to district elections. Area 1 is the lone competitive race as Claudine Jones (Area 4) and Kathy Rallings (Area 5) are running unopposed.

For an interactive map of Carlsbad Unified’s districts, visit the district’s website.

2 Comments
  1. Addie 2 weeks ago

    Interesting to note that Jim Desmond contributed financially to Burkholder’s campaign. Now why would people who don’t live in Carlsbad do that? Seems odd. Also note the SD Republican Party donated as well. And that “doctorate” degree in Christian counseling doesn’t seem to be from any accredited institution. We went through all this last time she tried to run for something.

  2. G. Martinez 2 weeks ago

    Why would Jim Desmond making an individual contribution be worth mentioning? Toni Atkins has donated to Hamilton and Schumacher. She lives much further away than San Marcos. A look at the addresses for Cori’s Union benefactors shows they are not local donors either.

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