Natomas School Board Race: Meet the Candidates

THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

Ten candidates have qualified to run Natomas Unified school board, but only three can win.

The contenders are three incumbents and seven newcomers, and on Nov. 3 voters get to choose three candidates. Here’s an introduction to all 10 candidates presented in the order they qualified for the ballot:

Micah Grant

Incumbent Micah Grant is a public relations professional who was first elected to the Natomas school board in 2016.

Grant, who has a 2-year-old daughter, said ensuring student, parent and teacher safety during the pandemic is his top concern this election year.

“While preventing learning loss and expanding childcare options,” he added.

In addition to serving on the school board, Grant has volunteered as a tutor, mentor for youth at Inderkum and Natomas high schools and volunteered for 100 Black Men of Sacramento which meets at Natomas Middle School. He’s also participated in the American Lake multicultural fest, is a former member of the Natomas Middle School PTA and serves as a volunteer for the Greater Sacramento Boys and Girls Club Teen Center.

To date, some of Grant’s key endorsements include fellow Natomas school board member Jag Bains, Natomas Charter School co-founders Ting Sun and Charlie Leo, Robla school board members Craig DeLuz and Ken Barnes, Folsom-Cordova school board members Christopher Clark and Joshua Hoover, and Roseville City school board member Julie Hennig Constant.

Raynette Johnson

Newcomer Raynette Johnson recently transferred her two younger children to H. Allen Hight Elementary and Inderkum High schools in the Natomas Unified School District.

Johnson works as a notary public loan signing agent and has volunteered for the non-profit A Sound Vision Inc. She said her top concern during this election is, “The success of educational goals during distance learning and the safety of the students and faculty.”

At press time, Johnson did not report any endorsements.

Incumbent Scott Dosick was first elected to the Natomas Unified school board in 2012. Prior to that, he volunteered on the school district’s budget advisory committee, as chair of the Natomas Citizen’s Bond Oversight Committee , as president of the Westlake Association of Volunteer Explorers parent group, as a member of the Westlake Charter school board, and president of the North Natomas Jibe board.

Dosick works as deputy director for the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development and both his children attend Natomas Charter School.

Scott Dosick

“As a single, working dad of two amazing kids, I have numerous priorities and concerns; but, if I had to pick one, then clearly it is ensuring that all 15,000 (Natomas Unified School District) students have access to a high quality education during the pandemic with rigorous distance learning while ensuring all students have a safe place to learn,” said Dosick. “We need to get our students back in the classroom as soon as it is safe for them, their teachers and families.”

Some of Dosick’s key endorsements include Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, state Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, city Councilmember Eric Guerra, county Supervisor Phil Serna, Los Rios Trustee Dustin Johnson, the Natomas Democratic Club and Stonewall Democratic Club.

Newcomer Lisa Wells relocated to Natomas from San Jose last year and admits she is still familiarizing herself with the Natomas Unified School District. She has three children attending American Lakes Elementary School.

Lisa Wells

“I thought what better way to get involved than to run for school board,” said Wells, an entrepreneur. “I’m very involved in my kids’ education.”

Prior to moving to Natomas, Wells volunteered with PTAs and school site councils at Hubbard Elementary School, KIPP Heartwood Academy, Slonaker Elementary and Overfelt High School in the Alum Rock school district. She also served for 15 years in various capacities on the Santa Clara County Headstart Policy Council.

Wells’ top concern this election season is “What school should look like during this pandemic. What teachers should be responsible for, what schools need to do and what parents should be doing.”

At press time Wells had no endorsements to report.

Incumbent Dr. Susan Heredia has been a Natomas Unified school board member since 2000. Both her sons attended Natomas schools including Jefferson and American Lakes elementary schools, Natomas Charter’s Leading Edge Program and Natomas High.

Dr. Susan Heredia

Heredia said there are many issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic that concern her this election season.

“These include ensuring that students have equitable access to rigorous distance learning opportunities and expanding essential supports for students and families,” said Heredia. “It is important that additional time for live interaction and live instruction is provided for English Language Learner students, students with disabilities, foster youth, homeless and other students identified for significant learning loss.”

Heredia, a professor emerita, said she volunteers reading to students during the school day and during summer programs; serving as a judge for senior projects; and administrating the Salvador-Heredia-Arriaga annual football scholarship created in memory of her son.

Some of Heredia’s key endorsements include state Assemblymember Kevin McCarty; Sacramento Mayor Steinberg; city Councilmembers Eric Guerra and Steve Hansen; county Supervisor Phil Serna, Natomas school board members Dosick and Lisa Kaplan; Sacramento County Office of Education board members Karina Talamantes and Bina Lefkovitz; the Natomas Democratic Club; the Stonewall Democrats; and Women Democrats of Sacramento County.

Mariana Corona Sabeniano

Newcomer Mariana Corona Sabeniano works as chief of staff for the California State Legislature.

“I am running to ensure all students and families in the district have the support they need to be college and career ready,” said Corona Sabeniano, who said she’s concerned about the barriers the pandemic places on families when it comes to student learning loss.

Corona Sabeniano volunteers as a Natomas Schools Foundation board member, on the Natomas Citizen’s Bond Oversight Committee, the Natomas Community Planning Advisory Council, and the Natomas Meadows HOA board. She’s also a board member for the California Center for Civic Participation Board Member and Sacramento State Alumni Association.

Some of Corona Sabeniano’s key endorsements include county Supervisor Phil Serna, state Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, city Councilmember Eric Guerra, the Democratic Party of Sacramento County and Natomas Teachers Association.

Christopher Alvarez

Newcomer Christopher Alvarez is a local attorney.

His top concern this election year is “safety for the students, teachers, and staff given the impact of COVID-19 while ensuring our students receive a quality education.”

Alvarez said he has volunteered as a member on numerous boards and with local organizations, including as a former Big Brother of Big Brother Big Sister of the Greater Sacramento Area.

He is currently endorsed by the Natomas Teachers Association.

Another first-time candidate Monica Barrios works as a technology manager. She has two children, one of whom attends Paso Verde Elementary School.

Monica Barrios

“I am committed to helping students recover the learning they have lost during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Barrios of this year’s school board race. “There is no other issue more important right now than beginning to plan for the process of assessing where students stand academically when in-person classes can resume and investing in the instructional and emotional supports they will need to get on grade level.”

Barrios is a volunteer board member for the non-profit Latinas in Technology and endorsed by former Sacramento City Unified School Board Member Gustavo Arroyo.

Newcomer Sumiti Mehta is a freelance writer and contributor for ABC 10’s digital series “Moms Explain All.” She has one son who attends NP3 Elementary and another at NP3 High School.

Sumiti Mehta

Mehta said achievement disparity has been a concern of hers for a long time and that distance learning is increasing this achievement gap and impacting all students.

“If elected, my No. 1 goal will be to narrow these disparities,” Mehta said. “Until we can ensure safe return, I will focus on quality of remote instruction, access to remote learning and providing additional support to students and families.”

Mehta currently serves as the District 1 Youth, Parks and Community Enrichment Commissioner, as a NP3 school board member, member of the Natomas Citizen’s Bond Oversight Committee and member of North Natomas Community Coalition. She has also volunteered at American Lakes Elementary, Two Rivers Elementary, Natomas Charter School, and Natomas Pacific Pathways Prep.

Some of Mehta’s key endorsements include Mayor Pro Tem Angelique Ashby, Sacramento County Board of Education president Joanne Ahola, District 3 Park and Recreation Commissioner David Guerrero, educators Leo and Tom Rutten, and District 1 Planning & Design Commissioner Lynn Lenzi.

Ericka Harden

First-time school board candidate Ericka Harden

works as a speech language pathology assistant and has two children who graduated from Natomas Unified School District schools

“Truly my No. 1 concern is the disparity issue that lies within the Natomas Unified School District,” said Harden. “The fact that South Natomas schools are and always have been underserved.”

Harden has volunteered for the parent advisory board, school site council, Local Control Accountability (LCAP), Joey’s Food Locker, PTA, and PTSA for Natomas Unified and its schools. Her volunteerism also includes the California 3RD District PTA, BE BOTHERED, and Sacramento Veterans Health & Wellness Council.

Some of Harden’s endorsements to date include the Natomas Teacher Association, Women Democrats of Sacramento County, the Sacramento Central Labor Council AFL- CIO, and Natomas Unified school board member Jag Bains.

The Natomas Buzz has invited the 10 candidates running for the Natomas Unified school board to participate in a series of articles wherein they answer questions submitted by readers. To submit a question, send it by email to [email protected].

Save The Date

The Natomas Buzz will be hosting two online candidate forums 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 24 and Thursday, Oct. 22. More details to come.

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