Perhaps you’ve heard about the “Feet to the Fire” candidate forums moderated by Barbara Venezia. These are city council-focused and tend to be freewheeling, sometimes raucous evenings.

And perhaps you’ve heard of Sandy Asper. She is a former teacher and school board candidate and is now a writer, among many other activities.

A few weeks ago, Asper thought it would be good have a “feet” type of evening with the eventual school board candidates. So, she set to work and in no time flat, she organized “Toes to the Stove,” a school board candidate forum.

“Toes” is hosted by the Newport-Mesa Community for Students (NMC4S), a grassroots organization dedicated to academic improvement in our schools, and administrative improvement in the district. I am a member of NMC4S.

NMC4S is non-partisan. We’ve never really taken a poll, but I’m guessing we have Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. Oh, and I think we have a Whig, too.

Five of the nine school board candidates are participating. They are:

Michelle Murphy, Area 2
Michelle Barto,  Area 5
Ashley Anderson,  Area 7
Gina Nick, Area 4
Diane “Dee Dee” Ruorock, Area 7

Not participating are the two incumbents, Charlene Metoyer and Karen Yelsey, and challengers Bertha Rodriguez and Paul Hillson.

A Fine Panel

The candidates will be grilled by an excellently assorted group of people that includes:

Patrice Apodaca – Former L.A. Times staff writer,  journalist, and author

Cara Boyd – Teacher

Miriam Munoz – DELAC President, parent

Eleanor Rebard – CA School Employees Assn.

Colleen Barney – Attorney, author

The moderator is Darnell Wyrick  Moderator whom I know from past candidate meetings. He does a great job.

When and Where

Toes is being held on Monday, Oct. 1 at 6 p.m. at the Fairview Community Church, 2525 Fairview Rd. in Costa Mesa.

The fun starts at 6:00 pm with pizza from Hotties Pizza and entertainment by the Darnell Wyrick Duo.

The forum starts at 7:00.

Why you should attend

This is a critical year for our schools. For the first time in local history, trustees will not be chosen at-large, but by specific area. This means that a candidate needs less money and fewer resources to mount an effective campaign. The result is a total of nine candidates running for the four seats.

You don’t have to be a parent to appreciate the need for a responsible school board. The quality of local schools affects property values, crime, and the overall health of the area. Good cities have good schools.

If you go, you’ll get good food, lively entertainment, and a lively discussion of the critical issues we face as we enter a new phase in trustee selection.

Come to Toes and leave informed.

Steve Smith