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 A, incumbent Leonard Evansic faces two challengers, Tyler Napier and Paul Kaminski.

In Area 3, Seat F, incumbent Dean Markham faces challenger Tracy Kelly.

One other incumbent won't even appear on ballots because she doesn't have any challengers. Jackie Wood will keep her spot for Area 2, Seat D.

Other board members include: Nancy Weinstein, Area 3, Seat E; Jeffery Kermode, Area 4, Seat G; Joe Wallek, Area 2, Seat 2; and Rick Scott, Area 1, Seat B. Those seats are not up for election this season.

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Name: Tyler Napier

Age: 38

Seat: Area 1, Seat A

Employment: Deputy Public Works director for the city of Tehachapi. Responsibilities include oversight, leadership and management of the city’s Water, Wastewater, Streets, Fleet, Facilities, and Landscape and Grounds Departments.

Education and training: I graduated from Tehachapi High School in 1999 and have worked in local government/public works in the greater Tehachapi area for almost 20 years.

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

In November, I am hoping to become a member of the TUSD board team. As a lifelong Tehachapi resident and father of six, the quality of life in our community is important to me. Safe neighborhoods, a thriving economy, healthy recreation and educational excellence are essential characteristics of the place I want to raise my children. Growing up, I had the privilege of attending Cummings Valley Elementary, Jacobsen Middle School and Tehachapi High School. I graduated in 1999 and married my high school sweetheart, Michelle, in 2001. Together, we are raising six energetic children ages 17, 14, 11, 10, 9 and 8 – two of them are active at Tehachapi High School, one enjoys learning at Jacobsen Middle School and our three youngest attend Tompkins Elementary.

I have worked for the city of Tehachapi, as their deputy public works director, for the past five years. In this position, I oversee the water, wastewater, street, fleet and grounds operations. I love my job and the people I work with. We have an amazing team — who are highly dedicated to making the city of Tehachapi a beautiful place to live. I know that it takes a team to get things done.

I believe that our kids deserve the best and we can give it to them. As a father of six children, I am highly committed to being a part of the solution to create an environment where our children thrive.

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 am committed to working with the board, superintendent and staff to ensure that our budget and resources are formatted in a way to create the most professional working, learning and playing environment for our teachers and children. I envision an environment where the teachers and students feel an overwhelming sense of pride each time they step foot on one of our campuses. That sense of pride translates directly into a high level of pride and respect. Our teachers, staff and students deserve to feel that way!

The athletic and playing fields/facilities on all campuses have a tremendous need for improvements, maintenance and repair. Some of these facilities are to the point where they have become a safety hazard for our children. Our children deserve better.

I believe that a school board must be responsive to parents, staff, students and the community at large, encouraging an open dialogue. The board must take input from all groups and weigh all the facts before making a decision. A board member is a trustee of the community that elects him or her. That trustee must be accessible and willing to collaborate with all members of the community; that includes all district staff. Anyone that comes before the board has the right to be heard — not just to speak. A school board member must build public understanding, support and participation. If elected, I plan to make this an integral part of the process the board takes to make decisions.

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Name: Paul Kaminski

Age: 65

Seat: Area 1, Seat A

Employment: Retired educator

Education and training: Bachelor of science in business administration from CSU Sacramento; the following degrees and credentials earned through the University of La Verne: masters degree in reading; masters degree in educational leadership; Clear Multiple Subject Teaching Credential through June 2025; Clear Administrative Credential through June 2025; employed with Tehachapi Unified School District for 25 years; teacher at Golden Hills grades 6, 3, and 4 for 11 years; Student Study coordinator at Golden Hills for four years; vice principal at Golden Hills and Cummings Valley Elementary Schools for one year; vice principal at Jacobsen Middle School for three and one-half years; principal at Cummings Valley Elementary for two and one-half years; principal at Jacobsen Middle School for five years; interim superintendent for one year; secondary academic coach for one year. On TUSD negotiating team for three years. East Kern Middle School Principal of the Year, member of ASCD (Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development) from 2007 to present, past member of ACSA (Association of California School Administrators), past member of TAT (Tehachapi Association of Teachers). Attended CSBA (California School Board Association) conference in 2018 and ACSA's Superintendent's Symposium in 2019. Member of Tehachapi Rotary since 2018, this year Rotary's community service person and in July 2021, I will be its president for one year. Multi-sport official for over 20 years in the Kern County Officials Association, developing patience and supplying a helpful service to students and coaches throughout Kern County.

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

I wish to serve on the TUSD governing board because my educational experience, time in the district, and most of all, striving to do what's best for kids would be a tremendous asset. My work the last two years enabled me to work at and/or visit all school sites and departments. Administrators, teachers and classified people in the district know me to be fair, honest, positive and a good listener. I have developed good relationships with parents and students as well. Even most of those students I had to discipline when I was the JMS principal (and their parents) found me to be fair. In all my administrative positions I valued dissenting opinions; not just to be fair, but to force me to defend my decisions and to gain from another's perspective. While being a teacher and administrator gave me valuable experience, it was the one year I was interim superintendent where I gained a unique and worthwhile experience that no one else has on the ballot. That year, I was at the hub of the district's interaction between students, parents, board members, teachers, classified, district office, departments AND community members, local business organizations, Rotary and law enforcement.

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

With my election, I hope to be part of improving communication with the Tehachapi community. Another goal is to strengthen the TUSD team, not leaving any stakeholder group out or value them less than another. The TUSD governing board needs to be proactive, not reactive, and I want to be involved in that. Our teachers need and want more staff development, which was started last year by Superintendent Stacey Larson-Everson and then derailed by COVID-19. Continuing social-emotional support for our students and staff, started a few years ago but even more essential since COVID-19, is vital. I pledge to support our struggling learners, our more advanced students through AP, GATE, and honors classes, and our non-college bound students through a high school program more suited for their various needs. Finally, the Tehachapi community and the district need to work together to bring a performing arts building and new stadium to THS and a much-needed update to JMS.

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Name: Leonard Evansic

Seat: Area 1, Seat A

Did not respond to phone and email requests to answer these candidate questions.

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Name: Dean Markham

Age: 52

Seat: Area 3, Seat F

Employment: Owner and CEO of Monument Commercial Insurance Services Inc. headquartered in Tehachapi, with a second location in Traverse City, Mich.; 25 years as a licensed and bonded insurance broker, with 30-plus licenses covering 13 states.

Education and training: Attended NMC in Northern Michigan where I received numerous certifications in mechanical operations. Attended California State Insurance Licensing class and have attended 25 years of insurance continuing education. To best serve Tehachapi schools community, I voluntarily attended California School Board Association Masters of Governance Institute.

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

To provide diversification to the TUSD board as a local business owner with experience and knowledge relating to business operations; understanding of the complex requirements of the insurance industry and relationships with outside vendors. And, as the father of a special needs student, I can also provide unique insight into the concerns of all special needs students and their families.

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 have observed the need for transparency between the district and parents. I believe the district needs to create procedures in regard to providing a response to the community's questions asked during TUSD board meetings. An open and reciprocal communication with the teachers, administration and parents is paramount to success for the district, with a need to focus on fiscal responsibility, providing staff with the support and continuous training needed to assist all students with improved academic test scores and the district’s Dashboard standings. I also believe the district needs to focus on ensuring that TUSD provides a safe, inclusive environment for all students and staff, with zero tolerance for bullying. The district needs to improve its performance in the special education arena as reflected by the numerous visits from the California Department of Education and illustrated in the results in the Critical Incident Reports which contained numerous violations in the IEPs for the special needs students, and to support the need for experienced teachers by providing a competitive wage.

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Name: Tracy Kelly

Age: 52

Seat: Area 3, Seat F

Employment: I am currently a special education teacher. Prior to teaching, I spent most of my first career as a food and beverage manager.

Education and Training: I have a BA in economics, a master's in special education, with two credentials in special education. I am currently working on my doctoral dissertation in educational leadership from Fresno State.

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

I hope to serve on the Tehachapi Unified District school board to build a more connected community. My wife attended Tehachapi schools and now our sons do. We choose to live here for the lifestyle and the lovely small community feel. I am running for the Tehachapi school board because I believe I can help make our board one that leads our community into the future with the next generation having a solid educational foundation.

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 believe we, TUSD, should be a fiscally prudent school district. I will work to increase staff job satisfaction. If the staff is happy, your child learns and retains more. All staff members work to help all children! I will work toward TUSD having consistent policies implemented throughout our educational system. I believe that the community of Tehachapi wants to help and share in our children succeeding. We as a district should invite them in to help with this goal. I will work to increase transparency. We as a district should be up front and honest, with our achievements as well as our shortcomings.

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