Letters to the Editor
October 21, 2020

To the Editor:
We are writing this letter to voice our endorsement of Esther (Sivakami) Taylor and Christina Reyes Villasenior. This election cycle has been an exciting time for our small town. To give residents a choice between numerous candidates is what makes our democracy great. We are endorsing Sivakami Esther and Christina after looking at their platform, we stand behind their views for the future of Fillmore. Their platform includes prioritizing locally owned businesses, an emphasis on equity and inclusivity, more affordable housing for low-income families and senior citizens, the creation of youth and family resources, and an emphasis on environmental stewardship. They are endorsed by numerous Ventura County organizations, which you can read about on their website futurefillmore2020.org. We have seen that these two women are valued community members, who are well educated, informed, and have the life experience to tackle the difficult choices that come with being a council member. They have shown through their campaigning that they are eager and ready to listen to all residents of Fillmore, even when those viewpoints differ from theirs. When elected, they will make themselves available to listen to the needs of constituents. Sivakami Esther and Christina will foster respect and inclusion in our city, by encouraging more citizens to participate and by making everyone feel welcome. We are excited for this upcoming election, and we urge every citizen to vote.
Evaristo Barajas, Ernie Morales, and Manuel Minjares,
Former Mayors of Fillmore.
Lynn Edmonds,
Fillmore City Council Member.


To the Editor:
Sixty years ago, JFK made it clear that the Vatican would have no say in how our government was run. His religion informed his views of democracy, it did not demand them. The same may not be true of Judge Barrett. Her membership in People of Praise, a secretive and highly conservative subsection of charismatic Catholicism seems to be so pervasive in her life that it may amount to a cult or significant, implacable cultural bias. Google it and make up your own mind.

I thought it disturbing that Barrett would not answer settled questions in the law like, can the president interfere with a woman's right to vote? She had no opinion, despite the 19th Amendment and several federal laws. Couldn't answer whether a president can unilaterally delay a general election? It's in the Constitution; he can't. She has never thought about climate change; can't say if the science is real. And this is the judge with the towering IQ?

Her interpretation of the Constitution is based upon "originalism" or "strict constructionism" and was/is shared by Scalia, Alito and other justices who have advocated this peculiarly brain-dead view of a document which is, in fact, a living basis for making life better for our citizens in a way that reflects guiding principles as well as present reality.

As one observer noted, interpreting the Constitution should not be about time-travel to the 1700's to embrace the same prejudices and limitations as our forefathers, and then apply that to people in a vastly different era. References to the humanity of slaves, women, and freedom, were only made later in the Bill of Rights and subsequent Amendments. What leaden ignorance cannot expand on extraordinary basic principles? Under this view, we don't need a court, a computer would do. Even that would be better than a justice who knows “nuthin' 'bout nuthin."

Fox News warned Democrats against "kavanaughing" Barrett. Rest assured. No one has credibly accused her of attempted rape and dubious character. We have seen her deflect and obfuscate, but she did not cry, snivel and accuse the Senate Judiciary Committee of malice in their questions.
Kelly Scoles
Fillmore, Ca


To the Editor:
In an effort to inform voters, the League of Women Voters, Ventura County conducted candidate forums for local city councils including Fillmore. Also had forums on other local election candidates, mayoral, state senate and assembly and the Congressional District 26 election.
The League of Women Voters conducted discussions of the California Ballot propositions and Ojai School Bond K. You can access the video recordings of these events at the LWV Ventura County website:
Be an informed voter! And, make a plan to vote!


To the Editor:
Attention Fillmore Community
We are looking for a local artist who is interested in painting a mural both inside the station and on both sides of the outside of the building. We would like to showcase your photo and bio in the store for the community members and visitors to enjoy for decades to come. We have stores in Morro Bay, Ojai and Fillmore we are interested in getting painted.
If you or anyone you know is interested, please email Amy at AMY BCRETATL(@ yahoo.com. Thank you all for your amazing support in our local community.
Your Neighborhood Shell Gas Station


To the Editor:
To: Dr. Adrian Palazuelos & District Administration, Fillmore Unified District School Board Trustees, Fillmore Unified School District Families, Fillmore Unified School District Certificated Staff, Fillmore Unified School District Classified Staff

Community service and civic duty were modeled for me by my parents from a very young age. I have always gravitated to leadership roles, be it the lead in the school play, serving as Senior Class President for Fillmore High Class of 1978, becoming a teacher and ending my career as a school site principal. I knew that once I retired from my employment with the Fillmore Unified School District that I would seek to serve as a Fillmore Unified School District Board Trustee. Due to the two vacancies sought by two uncontested community members, my continued call to service will become a reality for me in December 2020 when I will take Oath of Office.

For those of you who may not know me, I am a married mother of two children who are third generation Fillmore High School Alumni. I have three grandchildren who attend San Cayetano Elementary School. I earned my bachelor’s and master’s degree from California State University, Northridge and hold a K-8 teaching credential, Bilingual-Bicultural Certificate of Competence and an Administrative Credential in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies.

I started teaching in 1986 at San Cayetano Elementary School where I taught for 14 years. I was hired as Assistant Principal for Fillmore Middle School in 2000 and a year later, appointed Principal, serving in this role until 2007. I later served as Migrant Education Coordinator from 2007-2010. I returned to teaching at Mt. Vista Elementary School for 2 ½ years before being appointed as Principal of San Cayetano Elementary School for 7 ½ years until my retirement on June 18, 2020.

I am fully aware that the role of school board trustee comes with great responsibility. That responsibility includes that I first and foremost represent the voice of all students, Pre-k through 12th Grade. I understand that students and their families are counting on the collective duty of all school board members to do right by them. This requires that we work as an effective School Board by fulfilling our responsibility with integrity, respect and transparency. My personal goal in striving to be part of an effective school board, is a focus on the following 5 critical areas of School Governance:

Focus on Student Achievement
The best school boards understand that student learning is job one. This emphasis necessarily means that policies and resources of schools are targeted to promote achievement for all students. School practices, which have their roots set in policy, must have a laser-beam orientation on high standards, a rigorous curriculum, and high-quality teachers. Issues a school board must consider are evaluated against the contribution toward student learning -- the core business of schools. Thus, I will ask questions about current and proposed curricular programs in order to have a solid understanding of curriculum resources to make informed decisions that will raise student achievement.
Allocate Resources to Needs
Not all students walk through the school doors with the same needs. As a lifelong community member of Fillmore and having served as teacher and administrator in this district, I recognize this fact and thus am tasked to allocate resources such as time, money, and personnel, adjusting practices accordingly. Documents of the school district, such as the District General and Categorical Budget (LCAP), School Site plan budgets and other resources must be viewed as tools to reach student-learning priorities, thus the districts spending practices must align to district and school site goals. In order to make informed decisions on budget priorities, it is my responsibility to ask questions on budget allocations in alignment with the district LCAP goals to ultimately benefit students.

Monitor Expenditures and the Return on Investments
We are all accountable to somebody. In my 34 years serving as a FUSD employee, I am mindful of the accountability I owed to stakeholders, most importantly our families who entrust their children to the education of public schools. Board members are tasked to routinely and regularly measure and report the return on investment of the education dollars spent. To be considered effective policy makers in the education of the students we serve, including social emotional and academic achievement, we make our greatest gains by asking appropriate questions. To this point I recognize the self-instructive value in consistently asking: What services are we providing to which students at what cost and resulting in what benefits?

Use of Data
As school board members, being informed policy makers, requires using data. We cannot be assured that all students, regardless of gender, race, or socioeconomic status, are progressing toward and reaching high standards without data. The challenges to student learning, and particularly to providing equity among all students in achievement, are complex. Intuition-based assessment of student learning is tricky at best and certainly is an insufficient basis to determine education policy. We cannot accept general explanations of student social emotional and academic progress. With the current state of distance learning education for example, it is incumbent upon each school board member to ask questions with respect to its effectiveness by periodically analyzing pre and post achievement and attendance data. Without data, reports to communities about the education return on investment, are unconvincing. Communities expect measurable results, through data, from their tax dollars.

Engage the Communities We Serve
It is critical to look for ways to institutionalize parent and patron involvement in providing policy-making input. Specifically, it is incumbent upon us to have established mechanisms for community involvement in setting the vision for the school district, representing the values of the community, and identifying the district's short-term and long-term priorities. Thus, I will ask questions about our collective efforts for family involvement at the school site level and in our district. Involvement which strongly emphasizes a shared partnership with our community in educating our district’s 3,700 plus students.

School site leaders, teachers, support staff and our FUSD families depend on school board members to make informed researched based decisions to benefit ALL learners. My 34 years of dedicated service and experience as a teacher, administrator, parent and grandparent qualify me to take on the challenging role of school board member, providing an invaluable perspective which will assist in making transformational decisions that will serve the best interest of all FUSD employees and most importantly for our students.

In closing, I wish to share how grateful and honored I am to have the awesome opportunity to serve as your new school board member. I am committed to the success of all our students and to serving the constituents of the Fillmore Unified School District Community. I encourage all stakeholders to take an active role in our schools. Attend school board meetings to share about the challenges and celebrate in the success of our students. Let your voice be heard!
With Gratitude,
Tricia Gradias
Retired Principal