Voters within the Tehachapi Unified School District will have a few choices to make when they cast their ballots for school board members.

In Area 1, Seat B, incumbent Carrie Austin faces two challengers, Cristin Lassen and Rick Scott.

In Area 3, Seat E, Mary Faye Graham is not running to keep her seat. Nancy Weinstein and Richard Savage are vying for that spot.

And two other incumbents won't even appear on ballots because they don't have any challengers. Joe Wallek will keep his spot for Area 2, Seat C. And Jeffery Kermode will keep his spot in Area 4, Seat G.

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Carrie Austin

Age: 51

Seat: Area 1 Seat B

Employment: Office manager for Tehachapi Church of the Nazarene, 21 years

Education and training: High school diploma, three years of college, major in Education. Eight years Tehachapi Unified School Board member.

Why do you wish to serve on the Tehachapi Unified School District board?

I feel like after being on the board eight years I have a good rapport with the people on the board right now. I’m still invested after my last child graduated recently, and lots of my friends that have their children in school are concerned the way the public schools are going. By staying involved I’m advocating for all the students in the community. The parents know best and what happens to their student is very important.

Our first priority needs to be the students and I think sometimes we get in the rut for just advocating for the teachers or administrators, or special ed or Future Farmers of America or one special interest group. It’s easy for any person to get to advocating for just one special interest group. It’s my responsibility to listen to parents and children who are struggling.

What goals or issues do you wish to improve for Tehachapi Unified School District and that are important to you for the future health of the district?

The biggest one for me right now is choosing the next superintendent and that will work well with the great teachers and staff we already have. I feel like when we choose the interim superintendent, we had to have some healing in the district due to hurt feelings. The board for 2019 will choose the next superintendent.

My goal for the next four years is really take as much time as we need to find the next superintendent and helping the district and employees transition and get used to a new superintendent. I will also make sure all special interest groups are being listened and all the rest of the students that wouldn’t fall into one of those categories.

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CRISTIN LASSEN

Age: 40

Area: Area 1 Seat B

Employment: Owner and business manager for private company; served three years on Local Control and Accountability Plan and six years on the school site council at Tompkins Elementary School; volunteer for 10 years for Tehachapi Unified School District.

Education: Bachelors of Science degree in political science

Why do you wish to serve on the Tehachapi Unified School Board?

I feel like our students and district are suffering and we need to do better job retaining and recruiting quality teachers. It is effecting our students and our community. I would reprioritize the way money is spent in the district and choose to spend money on things that matter most like teacher pay, special needs education and facilities improvement. I’m honored to be endorsed by the Tehachapi Association of Teachers and I feel like the teachers and parents in the district need a voice.

What goals or issues do you wish to improve for TUSD and that are important to you for the future health of the district?

I think we have a staffing issue. I want to fix the special needs programs, improve facilities, teacher pay and lessen the lawsuits against the district. I want a district that works with the community, not against them. I am also discouraged about contract negotiations that have happened in the last couple years and I feel that needs to change.

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Rick Scott

Age: 63

Area: Area 1, Seat B

Employment: Retired educator

Education and Training: CSU Bakersfield- Multiple Subject Life Teaching Credential, UC Riverside- Bachelor Degree in Political Science, Elementary Teacher- 35 years, TUSD 27 years, Cummings Valley- National Geographic Bee Coordinator, Jacobsen Middle School- Dean of Students, IEP Administrator, 504 Coordinator, SART committee, Tehachapi High Golf Coach, Summer School Principal, Tompkins Elementary Teacher in Charge, Teacher of the Year, IEP Administrator.

Why do you wish to serve on the Tehachapi Unified School Board?

I have lived in Tehachapi for over 30 years. All three of my children attended TUSD schools from kindergarten through high school. I have been involved with TUSD as a parent, teacher, administrator and now in my retirement as a substitute teacher and a volunteer. I love our community and now would like to serve Tehachapi as a school board member.

What goals or issues do you wish to improve for the Tehachapi Unified School District and that are important to you for the future health of the district?

I would like to see improved communication and cooperation between the school board and our teachers and community. The school board needs to hire a competent superintendent that understands Tehachapi. We have great schools and teachers, so TUSD should be a magnet for achievement and enrollment. I will support that. We have the talent and resources to prepare our students for their future whether they choose college, career or military. Using my vast experience as an educator, I will ask questions, work toward solutions and make decisions based upon what is best for all of our students.

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Richard Savage

Age: 44

Area and seat will serve: Area 3 Seat E

Employment: Executive director at California Connections Academy

Education and training: BA in Spanish, secondary education; Masters in education administration; doctorate degree in organizational leadership.

Why do you wish to serve on the Tehachapi Unified School Board?

I want to help make a difference. We feel like we want to make a difference going into education and leave a lasting impression and leave things better than we found them.

We have lived up here several years and its a great community and a lot offer our kids. If I’m going to be able to make a difference in my community I can’t think of a better community to take care of kids and the future generation.

There are certain area where my professional experience in 20 years of experience I have been able to develop a certain skills set help me and the school board approach concerns and issues to develop solutions. I have been a stakeholder at every level and know and understand where attention should be focused. I want to take care of our teachers, students and give parents a voice. I feel like there is value for every stakeholder and feel like we can be able to come together.

What goals or issues in the Tehachapi Unified School District are important to you for the future?

I would like to see student achievement increase. I feel like our community is on the precipice of growth and I want to make sure the school district can handle that growth appropriately. I value new ideas and creativity while honoring traditions at the same time. We can work toward ensuring our students are prepared by 21st century activity in terms of collaboration, problem solving and innovation. I’m looking forward to working with other board members, the superintendent and the community at large.

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Nancy Weinstein

Age: 50

Area and seat will serve: Area 3 Seat E

Education and training: BS in Engineering; MBA in Business Administration

Employment: Adjunct Professor at CSUB in the School of Business and Public Administration; Process Improvement Leader at The Spaceship Company

Why do you wish to serve on the Tehachapi Unified School Board?

I have worked to understand the issues in the schools and the reason I want to serve now is that my background makes me uniquely qualified for the challenges the board is facing now. I have both an educational background and experience in the business sector. I have served on the Site School Council at Cummings Valley Elementary School and am currently on the council at Jacobsen Middle School. These eight years on the SSC's has given me insight and an understanding of school issues.

The leadership roles I have held at different companies and my work as a management consultant to businesses have given me excellent business acumen. I have an educational background in teaching and administration including working on a $10 million federal grant that studied children's learning issues.

The process improvement skills I have will help the board in setting goals that are measurable, building consensus, developing strategy, and solving problems. These are my strengths.

What goals or issues in the Tehachapi Unified School District are important to you for the future?

I would start out by going out to schools, talking to parents, teachers and administrators and looking into the issues.

Fiscal responsibility is important to me. I want to understand the issues before the board such as the need for more space for infrastructure and planning for the future.

I will get to know the other board members to see where we can leverage our strengths and balance our opportunities. I have no conflicts of interest and no underlying reason to run other than to serve the students, teachers, administrators and taxpayers of Tehachapi.

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Jeff Kermode

Age: 61

Seat: Area 4 Seat G

Employment: Currently president and CEO of JJK Group, Inc, a public safety consulting and personnel investigation company, and serves as interim assistant general manager, Bear Valley CSD.

Past: police chief, Bear Valley CSD (2 years); police chief, city of Tehachapi (7.5 years); police commander, city of Irvine (26 years); community college adjunct faculty, Golden West College (20 years)

Education: BA, UC Irvine, Social Ecology, Irvine, CA; JD, Western State University, College of Law, Fullerton, CA; FBI National Academy, Quantico, Va.

Professional Certifications: California State Bar #118955; Executive Certificate, California Commission on Peace Officer Standards & Training (POST); Lifetime Community College Credential

Why do you wish to serve on the Tehachapi Unified School Board?

I feel with my years of public safety experience and my time at the community college level I bring a good broad perspective to the board business. When I was the Tehachapi police chief I helped negotiate the original agreement between the city and school resource officer, and wrote a grant and obtained federal funding to help pay for the cost of the SRO.

The students are the key to the future and I would like to give back to the community by hopefully making the schools and district better.

After serving four years on the school board I’m finally understanding how the system works and would like to build on that experience.

What goals or issues do you wish to improve for the Tehachapi Unified School District and that are important to you for the future health of the district?

As a team, we as the board need to help administrators and teachers find a way to assist students improve their test scores. My most personal interest is continuing to ensure safe environments for students and staff in our schools.

Another important goal has to do with the superintendent search and making sure that we have an inclusive and transparent process in the selection of the best possible superintendent for our community.

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Joe Wallek

Age: Not provided

Area and seat will serve: Area 2, Seat C

Employment: Retired

Education and training: A.A. Liberal Arts; B.A. of Science Cal State in Physical Education; B.A. Psychology at Cal State Bakersfield; M.A. in Special Ed at Cal State Bakersfield.

Why do you wish to serve on the Tehachapi Unified School Board?

I firmly believe in transparency and accountability and have demonstrated for the last four years that I am not timid asking hard questions.

What goals or issues do you wish to improve for TUSD and that are important to you for the future health of the district?

An important goal is to improve customer service from the board to the people we work for. I believe every concern warrants a timely and courteous response.