HomeCommunityCUSD BOARD ELECTRON: Meet the candidates

CUSD BOARD ELECTRON: Meet the candidates


Voters throughout Carmel-by-the-Sea, Carmel Valley, Big Sur and Pebble Beach will be tasked on Nov. 6 with electing two candidates––choosing between incumbent board president John Ellison, Operation Padre chair Tess Arthur, real estate broker Lisa Talley-Dean and former Carmel River PTA president Sara Hinds––for two spots on the Carmel Unified School District board to serve four-year terms.

The opening of two positions as opposed to only one has been brought forth by current CUSD board member Mark Stilwell’s decision to not run again, allowing for two candidates to be selected. For this reason, voters may place more focus on the individual qualifications of the candidates and consider where their priorities lie in terms of education.

Keen-eyed voters may be looking for candidates with close ties to the school, but in the case of the four contenders, all have or have had children in the district. All four candidates are residents of Carmel, and all have similar ideals: Safety in the school district must increase, financial decisions must be made, and stability must be maintained.

How will the four candidates ensure these ideals are fulfilled?

Tess Arthur

You may know her from her volunteer work, from her establishment of Operation Padre or simply as Mrs. Arthur at Carmel Middle School––and now, you’ll come to know her as Tess Arthur, board candidate.

Through her close involvement to virtually every school in the district, Arthur explains that she’s met with students of all backgrounds, including working with special needs students at Tularcitos, serving as CMS volleyball coach and in fundraising efforts for CHS.

“I am a passionate advocate for children,” explains Arthur, noting her goal that all students’ individual needs are met. “Building relationships is my gift and something I know will serve me well on the CUSD board.”

Outside of her campaign, Arthur has continued to work on her goal of creating a sports field at Cachagua Park, which she explains will be completed by the end of October.

“I am a natural-born leader and have the ability to motivate and inspire others to fight for
what’s right,” Arthur says. “My work has only just begun.”

Lisa Talley Dean

More than just a real estate broker with a strong legal background, Lisa Talley Dean has been a volunteer and advocate for students over the last 11 years of her children’s education in the district. The former lawyer explains that the skills she’s acquired in both the courtroom and the classroom will make her a highly beneficial member of the board.

“My strong work ethic, legal background, honesty and integrity, loyal commitment to clients, problem-solving skills and collaborative approach have all been key to my success,” Talley Dean notes. “These are the same skills I would bring to the table as CUSD board trustee if elected.”

Talley Dean, who frequently advocates on behalf of students at board meetings, explains her knowledge of the public school system as being instrumental towards her campaign.

“I very much care about the education of our youth in our area,” explains Talley Dean, who goes on to note her desire to see students reach their full potential during their time in the district. “My energy and passion for primary education, coupled with my experience and skill set will enable me to make a positive difference for student outcomes.”

Lisa Talley Dean envisions a board with cohesion, ensuring students a bright future and balancing financial and social needs in both the classroom and the district.

John Ellison

As the incumbent president of the CUSD board, Ellison explains his influence from former Superintendent Marvin Biasotti’s leadership, alongside his belief that the board needs adequate resources and stability in order to achieve its already-established goals.

“The goal that I am most passionate about is completing our master planning project,” explains Ellison, going on to describe how this will improve facility development in the district. Common demands in infrastructure, including lights on the football fields and improvements in school parking, are revealed by Ellison to be part of his focus.

The M.D. explains further his goal to continually provide teachers with resources to grow in their professions, providing students with greater educational opportunities.

“I believe that we have accomplished a great deal in our ability to prepare students for college,” Ellison clarifies, “[but] there is much more that we can do to prepare students for the job market if they choose that in place of college.”

Further remarking on his involvement in the district, the incumbent explains his enjoyment of watching each graduating class each year—and his goal to continue to see each class make improvements in preparedness for their paths ahead of them.

“Each year when I attend the CHS and Carmel Valley High School graduations, I am excited to see the quality of the graduates that are leaving our district,” Ellison reflects. “I think as board members, it is critical that we are attending to each and every step along the way.”

Sarah Hinds

A former PTA president at River School, Sarah Hinds is ready to share her passion for public education while also providing representation for parents of students below the high school level, with two children currently attending CMS.

Hinds stresses her engagement in the district as a key factor in her run, explaining her belief that board members should be firmly engaged in the district and its activities.

“Board members should be engaged and visible,” Hinds explains. “If we have a strong school board, we will have a strong community.”

Hinds explains her belief that the district is currently going in the right direction in terms of planning and that she is willing to put in the time and effort it takes to best represent the community.

“I will always keep our students’ best interests in mind when I’m making decisions,” says Hinds, explaining her focus on safety and security for all students in the district.

As a mother of a 14-month-old who will also be entering the district, Hinds is in it for the long run.

“Our district is going in the right direction, and I want to be part of the team that keeps us on this trajectory,” Hinds asserts. “I attended CUSD schools, and I want to give back to this community that is so rich in educational opportunities.”

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