by Mark McDermott
Cathey Graves and Jason Boxer won election to the Manhattan Beach Unified School District Board of Education on Tuesday night, emerging from a field of four candidates to fill seats left vacant by termed-out candidates Bill Fournell and Karen Komatinsky.
Graves outdistanced the field, tallying 8,359 votes, or 32.05 percent, while Boxer earned 6,268 votes, or 24.03 percent. Mike Brunick garnered 5,944 votes, 22.79 percent, and Heather de Roos 5,514 votes, 21.14. The tallies were not final Wednesday as the Los Angeles County Registrar’s office was expected to update totals with provisional ballots, but the final order of the candidates was unlikely to change.
Graves is an attorney, CPA, and mother of four children who have all attended MBUSD. For the last 17 years, she has been extensively involved with local schools — as District Advisory Council president, as board member and president of the PTA District Council and Pennekamp PTA, MBUSD Green Committee founder and chair, founder and chair of the MBUSD social and emotional learning committee, as a board member for both MBEF and MBX, and chair of Young at Art and Growing Great.
Graves said last month she was running in part because she felt her experience would enable to “hit the ground running” to replace the two departing board members.
“I’m running for school board because of my commitment to our schools and the children of our community,” Graves said. “I feel the school board is at a critical juncture. We’re losing nearly 20 years of experience on school boards this fall, and I feel like I’m uniquely qualified to fill that gap.”
Boxer is a teacher and educational advocate who grew up attending MBUSD schools, then obtained a degree in education and taught in New York City before returning to Manhattan Beach with a heightened passion for education. Boxer found some things troublingly unchanged.
“I had lived through budget cuts and layoffs as a student in our district, so coming back as an adult and seeing this issue alive and well was galvanizing for me,” Boxer said. “It’s like the status quo. Really, it’s become par for course in Manhattan Beach. I think people kind of live expecting waves of budget cuts coming and coming and coming. It seemed like something that has been around so long, it’s worth trying to change.”
Boxer, at 28, will become the youngest elected official currently serving in Manhattan Beach. This “digital native” sensibility resulted in an accessibility not previously seen in local educational policymaking, including Board of Education podcasts and social media activity, something Boxer vowed to continue as a school board member. ER