Q&A with candidates on the ballot | TheUnion.com
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Q&A with candidates on the ballot

A handful of special districts have seats up for election in western Nevada County, including the Nevada City Elementary School District and Nevada County Consolidated Fire District.

Nevada City Elementary School District — vote for two

David Alkire



Age: Decline to state

Occupation: Lawyer



Hometown: Nevada City

WHY RUN

I am running because this shapes up as a very difficult time for local school districts, and I believe my life experience can add value to the decision-making process. The two overriding issues going forward will be epidemiological and financial. Public school budgets in California are threatened with a very large loss of funds, and decisions about how to open schools while keeping everyone safe are going to require skill at gathering and evaluating information and weighing competing needs. This is basically what I do every day in my job.

SKILLS/EXPERIENCE

I have practiced law in California for over 40 years. I previously served (by appointment of the Nevada County Board of Supervisors) as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Nevada County Law Library, and later as a Member of the Citizens Oversight Committee of the Nevada County Library. The other members elected me to terms as chairperson of both of those boards. I also served as a member of the Parents Advisory Committee at Nevada Union High School.

As a father of two young men who attended local public schools and the husband of a retired elementary school teacher, I understand the need for educated, committed school board members who understand their elected role — what it is and what it is not. I believe I am qualified to help guide the Nevada City Elementary School District during this unprecedented time.

GOALS

Safety of our students and staff while providing excellence in education is of utmost importance. It is vital that board decisions are based on medical science and the best balance of interests of all constituencies, including students, teachers, parents and staff. Going forward, school board members must have the fortitude to stand up to politically motivated anti-science provocateurs, while providing every available resource to our children and their families.

Sandra Barrington

Age: 40

Occupation: Nonprofit management

Hometown: Nevada City (originally from Loomis)

WHY RUN

I want to serve on the Nevada City School District Board because I feel that it is important to actively serve our community with positive solutions to the complex issues we face today. It is so important that our teachers, administrators, and parents have the resources they need to lead our children on their own successful path. Let’s respond proactively so that the learning process can thrive. As a parent, I have a personal vested interest in the success of our school system and ensuring that we focus holistically on families.

SKILLS/EXPERIENCE

My first glimpse into the Nevada City School District was with a board governance role at Sierra Harvest working with the district to implement farm to school programming and the Foothills Fresh program. For the past 13 years I have been involved in the community actively building resources and expanding organizational capacity and collaborations. Whether it is through hands on projects or in a leadership role, I have helped build programs and essential facilities and have invested my time and talents in making our community a stronger, healthier, more vibrant place to call home. Through my time at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Foundation, Sierra Harvest, Rotary and volunteering for various nonprofits, I am proud of the work that has been done and know that there is so much more to accomplish.

GOALS

Now is the time for all hands to be on deck to ensure that high-quality learning continues no matter what life might throw at us. Our teachers, administrators and parents need positive advocates. In any successful educational setting teamwork is crucial. I will be an advocate for social emotional learning, social justice education, competitive wages and compensation packages, language programs (particularly dual immersion programming), physical and health education, and the health and safety of the district.

Ty Conway

Age: 44

Occupation: Principal software engineer

Hometown: Nevada City

WHY RUN

I am very passionate about being an advocate for all children in our community when it comes to providing the highest quality education that meets their needs. I believe that it is a board member’s duty to be the objective voice for our children. Furthermore, we have a duty to provide support and set direction for the district administration, teachers and staff in order to maintain accountability as a public school system. These duties help ensure the successful delivery of a public school experience that cultivates academic growth in all children. Being a part of this community for the better part of 30-plus years, and a coach myself, I’ve come to truly appreciate what it means to teach our youth as well as the impact and responsibility that follows. They are the future. Anything I can do to help lift them into a positive, selfless future through serving our community on the school board is what I am here to do.

SKILLS/EXPERIENCE

As an incumbent, I have seen our school district thrive. Teachers, staff and administrators collectively working together to provide a top-notch education for our children. Throughout my tenure, I have advocated for data-backed solutions to continually improve and adjust to the needs of the students and it’s been very successful. In addition, I have and am currently on several committees where I’ve been able to share the voices of children, parents and community members to provide perspective that has helped our district make tough, but sound decisions. From the facilities committee to the technology committee, I’ve helped support the wonderful efforts of our administration, teachers and staff to do what’s in the best interest of all children. With 22 years of experience in the software industry, 12 years coaching youth activities and thousands of hours volunteering in our community, I’ve been able to provide support to the district and been a part of some wonderful team efforts with great success. Lastly, I’ve attended conferences and workshops on effective school board practices along with online training.

GOALS

My goals, if elected, would include continuing to support the comprehensive facilities plan the district started a couple years ago. I think it’s important to provide our children, teachers and staff with a safe, positive and exceptional environment for learning and teaching. I would also like to continue to advocate for an appropriate balance of technology in our school system and look to provide an equitable experience for all children. Continuing to balance needs with financial realities and support the administration’s efforts to be great stewards of the district’s financial responsibilities is a priority as well. Additionally, there was an effort started to introduce children at the middle school level to life’s opportunities. Providing eighth graders with some insight into college and career opportunities only helps to inspire and motivate them to look forward to what they might be passionate about but don’t know exists. Lastly, given the current pandemic environment, I will objectively continue to support safe and viable options for all children with the goal of getting them back into the classroom full time when the right opportunity presents itself.

James (Jim) Sperlazza

Age: 72

Occupation: Commercial real estate investor, president of property management business

Hometown: Nevada City

WHY RUN

As you are aware I am an incumbent and running again with the intent of keeping our experienced board in place.

SKILLS/EXPERIENCE

I am an experienced entrepreneur with skill sets in finance, negotiation, and project management.

GOALS

Continue to improve the education of our youth while preparing them for high school and beyond.

Nevada County consolidated Fire District — vote for four

Tom Carrington

Age: Decline to state

Occupation: Retired sheriff’s captain

Hometown: Grass Valley

WHY RUN

As an incumbent, I would like to continue to serve the people of the Nevada County Consolidated Fire Department. I volunteer my time and take no pay as a director of the board. Over the years we have worked to create an exceptionally well run management team the public can be proud of. This was not easy. We have a budget that is in the black and we spend the taxpayers’ money wisely.

SKILLS/EXPERIENCE

I’m a retired Nevada County sheriff’s captain. I spent my life serving the people of Nevada County. Working as a deputy sheriff gave me a unique set of skills that have served me as a director of the board. I worked all aspects of law enforcement from patrol, investigations, custody and hostage negotiations. My experience in budgeting and personnel have been extremely important as a director.

GOALS

I want to continue the work we have done over the years; maintaining our programs of setting aside monies for up-to-date fire engines and first quality equipment. I want our firefighters to continue to have all the tools they need to get the job done safely for our citizens. I am very proud to serve on the board of the Nevada County Consolidated Fire Department.

Shawna Cresswell

Couldn’t be reached comment after multiple attempts.

Spencer William Garrett

Age: 65

Occupation: Retired firefighter

Hometown: Lived in Grass Valley area since 1988

WHY RUN

I’ve been on the Board of Directors since 2016. I retired from the Consolidated Fire District in February 2014.

SKILLS/EXPERIENCE

I was a firefighter for Gold flat and Bullion fire districts from 1989 to 1991, then worked full time for Consolidated until I retired in 2014.

GOALS

There are very few people who know more about this district, where it’s been and the course charted by its Chief Turner. Keep this department solvent and to add more personnel on the engines as soon as the district can afford it.

Patricia L. Nelson

Age: Decline to state

Occupation: Environmental officer, California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, Recovery Directorate

Hometown: Grass Valley

WHY RUN

To continue to serve the Nevada County Consolidated Fire District (NCCFD) in the capacity of director. I was last elected in 2016 following my appointment as interim director in 2014. My interest in the district began in 2012 after the special tax was passed after which I became a member of the NCCFD Citizens’ Oversight Committee in 2013.

SKILLS/EXPERIENCE

I have technical and managerial skills in community, environmental, and regulatory planning and compliance with a specialty in emergency response and recovery events.

GOALS

To assist the NCCFD achieve its operational goals and is responsive to the district’s constituents.

Marianne Slade-Troutman

Age: Decline to state

Occupation: Retired

Hometown: Nevada County since 1962

WHY RUN

I am seeking reelection on the Nevada County Consolidated Fire District Board of Directors. Our recent fire has again reminded us how important it is for fire departments to continue being progressive.

SKILLS/EXPERIENCE

Director Nevada County Consolidated Fire District (four years); member California State Firefighters Association (four years); Nevada County Board of Education (elected 36 years); Nevada County grand jury foreman pro-tem (one year); Director Historical Landmarks Inc. (nine years); director local television station board president (four years); producer/host weekly television program “Hometown USA” (12 years); Director Conservation District Board (four years elected); Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Auxiliary (nine years); Grass Valley/Nevada City Kiwanis Club vice president (two years); Marine Corps League Gold Country Detachment No. 885 (10 years); fundraiser 49er Fire Victims — Grass Valley, Nevada City, Ophir Hill volunteer fire departments; Freed — Lovett Recovery Home (six years); local churches Sunday school teacher — choir-youth group leader.

GOALS

As a director, I will continue to support keeping our firefighters provided with state-of-the-art equipment vital to their safety, and a balanced budget.

Compiled by David Mariuz.


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