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Sweetwater board races provide an opportunity for a fresh start!

Created: 26 September, 2014
Updated: 13 September, 2023
14 min read

Last week we kicked off our election review of the Sweetwater Union High School District races with Trustee Areas 1 and 2.
This week we continue our look at the candidates running for the Sweetwater Board in Trustee Areas 3 and 4. Next week will take a look at the last Trustee Area 5 and start our look at Chula Vista Elementary school board race.

In our introduction to this review we noted that this election would be an election marked by a host of first for the district and the community.

With all five board seats up for election, this would also be the first time in history where there is no sitting incumbent running for office, providing a troubled district a fresh perspective and an opportunity to turn the attention away from the years scandal.

The list of first includes the first time for district elections. For the first time ever there the newly elected board members will represent a specific district. The first time those candidates will have to run with campaign contribution limits. And, there will be a new Superintendent.

In our attempt to bring to our readers a bit of information about the candidates running for office in the Sweetwater High School District, we sent out a questioner to the candidates along with a request for their bios. Not all candidates returned the questioner. For those candidates who did, we condensed their answers and are providing a short bio on their candidacy.

Sweetwater Union High – Trustee Area 3:

In Trustee Area 3 there are four candidates: Richard Arroyo, Chris Shilling, Frank Tarantino, and disgraced former board member Jim Cartmill who plead guilty to accepting gifts from contractors and vendors who did business with the district.

Trustee Area 3 encompasses most of East Chula Vista. On the west end it is bounded by I-805 between E. Palomar and Olympic Blvd and reaches East out to Telegraph Road (a small portion juts out the E. H Street) and south to Main Street from there it expands to envelop all of East Chula Vista and South to the border.

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Candidate Frank Tarantino:

Frank Tarantino
Frank Tarantino

Frank Tarantino has a Master’s Degree in Education, and in the Science of Education and Counseling. Tarantino has spent his career in the education of the children of Chula Vista, first as a teacher, then as a school administrator, and as a Guidance Counselor until his retirement.

Tarantino has an extensive list of the community service, from the Friends of the Chula Vista Heritage Museum to serving as an elected board member of the Chula Vista Elementary School Board.

My campaign slogan: Let’s put the “we” back in Sweetwater sums up my vision for the district. For too long the district has been governed by an “insiders’ club” and individuals who are interested in their personal, financial and/or political gain. … It is time we change things. It is time we take back our school district.

What qualities are you looking for in hiring a superintendent?

The following personal qualities are important for me when looking to hiring the next superintendent of the SUHSD: Integrity, Honesty, Fairness and a Moral Compass. The superintendent is essentially the face of the district. He/she must be an educational leader, with a unique, broad skill set in order to be effective.

Board accountability has been lacking, how would you hold the board accountable?

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As we have seen … if serious lapses occur at the highest level of the institution’s governance, confidence in overall district management inevitably will suffer. The quality of a board’s conduct of its business should be a model that guides the rest of the district, setting standards that invite emulation in system-wide governance and management.

What do you believe your role is in interacting with teachers, and/or what kinds of relationship do you believe in building with teachers?

Unions and collective bargaining are often the topics of heated political debate among the public and those who would argue that this is what inhibits educational reform. I do not agree with this premise and the present context in the Sweetwater District provides an ideal opportunity and a pressing need to re-examine the relationship the district has with its employee bargaining units.

What are your financial priorities?

Among the responsibilities of governing boards, maintaining fiscal integrity is fundamental. Like it or not, the board is the ultimate fiduciary of the district. As a member of the Sweetwater UHS District Board of Trustees, my financial priorities would include focusing special attention on: · Auditor independence; · Audit committee independence, composition, and activity; · Whistle-blower protection; · Transparency and accountability in governance; · Enhanced financial disclosure; · External annual Forensic Audit of school district finances to increase transparency

Frank Tarantino web site is: www.FrankTarantino2014. com

Candidate Chris Shilling:

Chris Shilling
Chris Shilling

Chris Shilling is a lifelong resident of Chula Vista and a parent of two students in the district. He lists himself as area director for a non-profit that supports and empowers persons with disabilities to achieve their life goals and as a college instructor. His community service includes serving on the City of Chula Vista’s Board of Ethics and as the Varsity Basketball Coach at High Tech High Chula Vista.

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What do you believe is the number one issue with the district?

The district has many issues; however, I believe the number one overarching issue is that the culture of the district is not learning and student focused. This has created distrust between the district and the community. … I want a district that is focused on the education, achievement, and opportunity of my children. Instead the district has been embroiled in politics focused on the personal agendas of adults.

What qualities are you looking for in hiring a superintendent?

I am looking for someone who has not been involved in local politics and who will not be polarizing to any specific group. I want a serving leader, not a self-serving leader. I want a person who is committed to learning and students first, and not interested in positional power, authority, or self-gain. I want an honest person who is focused on building and leading strong teams; also a person who wants to listen to and engage the community.

Board accountability has been lacking, how would you hold the board accountable?

The board needs to be fully accountable for the district operations down to the individual student success level. The board needs to be accountable for decisions, transparency, following processes and procedures, following the Brown Act, etc.

What do believe your role is in interacting with teachers, and/or what kinds of relationship do you believe in building with teachers?

I believe that my role in interacting with teachers is to listen and attempt to help them with their concerns as stakeholders in the district. I am supportive of teachers because a teacher’s performance and motivation directly impacts the education of the students. However, the bus driver who gets them to school, cafeteria worker who makes sure they are nourished, and nurse who makes sure they are healthy are all vitally important to the educational environment as well. So I believe it is the responsibility of the board to make sure that every group has a voice and that the district is one team, so that we all can move towards the common vision of educating and positively impacting the young minds who will inherit and change the world.

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What are your financial priorities?

My financial priority is to ensure that funds and resources are going to the areas where they can do the most good for students. I want to see every financial decision be a student-based decision. However, before that vision can be achieved we need to get a handle of the mess that the district is currently in. To do this I want a complete independent forensic audit of all district operations and finances. This will provide the independent information that will allow for tough decision making and also collect evidence to hold people accountable if laws are found to have been broken. Our finances should be completely transparent.

Candidate Shilling’s web site is:

Candidate Richard Arroyo
Richard Arroyo did not respond to our questionnaire. What we do know of Mr Arroyo is that he is an Attorney in Chula Vista and is a relator. He is listed as a youth advocate. He received the endorsement of Republican Party.

Candidate Jim Cartmill:
Jim Cartmill plead guilty to hiding gifts he accepted from contractors who did business with the district. We have editorialized that Cartmill has served long enough on the board, over 20 years, and we can’t think of one good reason that he should once again run for the office he disgraced. We surmise his decision to run again after his guilty plea is driven by his ego and this characterizes the problems with the previous Sweetwater Board. We chose not to invite Cartmill to answer our questionnaire. You can read our editorial opinion here:


Sweetwater Union High – Trustee Area 4:

Trustee Area 4 list of candidates include: Valley Coleman, Tino Martinez, Felipe Nuno, Derrick Roach, and Nicholas Segura.

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Trustee Area 4 is the hardest area to define. It starts out on the North-West Side from the Bay at L Street and a juts east to Palomar and down to Main Street and expands from there to include most of San Ysidro East of I-5 to just past Brown Field.

Candidate Nicholas Segura:

Nicholas Segura
Nicholas Segura

Segura is an electrician by trade and a retired US Navy serviceman. He is the parent of three children in the Sweetwater School District. His community involvement includes school site council rep and the PTA at Rohr Elementary. Currently he serves as vice-chairman on the Southwestern College Prop “R” Citizen Oversight committee. He also volunteers as a Coach for several South Bay Little League teams. He has been endorsed by the Democratic Party, including city councilman David Gonzalez and Assembly member Lorena Gonzalez.

What do you believe is the number one issue with the district?

In addition to increasing transparency and community engagement and preventing corruption, our district’s top priority needs to be providing equal access to a high quality education for all children at their neighborhood schools, regardless of geographic location or socio-economic background.

What qualities are you looking for in hiring a superintendent?

An excellent candidate for superintendent needs demonstrate the following leadership qualities: · Responsive to the demands of all constituents in the district including students, teachers, parents, staff and the community at large; · Dynamic communications and reflective listening skills; · Place value in community and public input and perspectives; · and, above all, a superintendent must always be in tune with “what is best for all students.”

Board accountability has been lacking, how would you hold the board accountable?

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The Board needs to gain a good understanding of the policies and procedures that are being voted on – this can be accomplished with an in-depth orientation that clearly outlines Board procedures, policies, and responsibilities. The decisions board members make have a direct impact on students and staff, and each board member must be accountable for the actions. The Board should adhere to transparency of all decisions and welcome stakeholder input on all decisions.

What do you believe your role is in interacting with teachers, and/or what kinds of relationship do believe in building with teachers?

I believe communicating with teachers is essential. Teachers’ input is critical in identifying what new resources are need and in providing quality education for all students.

What are your financial priorities?

The Local Control Accountability Plan provides the district with guidelines on how district funds will be spent. The district must develop goals and actions with stakeholder input that will measure student outcomes and increase student achievement and performance.

Candidate Segura’s web site is:

Candidate Segura was the only candidate from Trustee Area 4 to return the questionnaire or to provide information on their candidacy. This is what we know of the other candidates.

Candidate Valley Coleman:
Candidate Coleman did not have an email address associated with her registration and she did not return our phone call. We could not find any information on her in our search through the web.

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Candidate Tino Martinez:
Tino Martinez is a film maker. He is active on Twitter where you can follow him.

Candidate Derrick Roach:
Derrick Roach is a licensed private investigator who is an active participant with the Republican Party of San Diego County. He ran for State Assembly, District 79 in 2008 and in District 80 in 2012.

Candidate Felipe Nuno
Felipe Nuno list himself as Air Force Reserve/Businessman. Nuno has been very active in education in the South Bay, in particular with the San Ysidro School District where, recently, as a candidate for the temporary position of school superintendent.


Due to an error on our part we did not get the questionnaire to Kevin Pike who is a candidate for the Sweetwater School Board, Trustee Area 2. As such we were not able to include him in last week’s edition with the other candidates. This week we have added his responses here:

Candidate Kevin Pike, Trustee Area 2

Kevin Pike
Kevin Pike

Pike has a degree in Business Administration. He was a 30 year employee for the City of Chula Vista, 6 years as a Recreation Supervisor and 24 years as a Chula Vista police officer and detective. He now enjoys coaching his grandson’s t-ball team.

What do you believe is the number one issue with the district?

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The district is in the business of educating students. That has to be the priority of the board members, administration and staff. Students should graduate prepared for their college or career. In order for that to happen all stakeholders must work together to ensure students educational needs are met.

What qualities are you looking for in hiring a Superintendent?

When hiring a Superintendent I will be looking for a person of good character, an excellent communicator. Someone who is familiar with the district and aware of the issues it faces. A person who exhibits competency and is accountable for their actions.

Board member accountability has been lacking, how would you hold the board accountable?

If elected, I would be one of five members. The best way for the board to make decisions is as a unit.

What do you believe your role is in interacting with teachers and/or what kinds of relationships do you believe in building with teachers?

I believe that teachers are on the front lines. They are charged with the important job of educating he students in the classrooms. … I want to support them and have a quality relationship where they know I will listen.

Financial Priorities.

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The budget process is an important issue to finance programs that are in the best interest of the entire district. The quality of education is important as well as to make sure that instructors have the equipment necessary to teach, and that the support personnel have the materials needed to maintain the schools.

Mid-Term elections will be held on Nov 4, with mail ballots being sent out the first week of October.

Article updated: Sept. 30, 2014

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