Appointed Newport-Mesa school board member seeks election to seat

Newport-Mesa Unified School District board member Vicki Snell says she doesn't like politics.

Still, after holding a seat on the board for roughly five months, she's throwing her hat into the race in an attempt to continue to represent the Estancia High School zone.

"I think politics can influence your actions because you're worried about how people will react and vote," she said. "I'm not that type of person. I always try to do what's right in every situation."

Trustees appointed Snell to the seat this year after veteran board member David Brooks left to pursue charity work.

Snell, 62, who spent 15 years on parent-teacher association executive boards at three Westside Costa Mesa schools, announced her candidacy in an email Monday.

She is running against Steve Smith to fill the vacancy in Area 1, which represents Estancia High and various Costa Mesa elementary schools. Smith, vice chairman of the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee, announced his candidacy last week.

Snell, a longtime Costa Mesa resident, boasts an extensive resume in the Newport-Mesa community, having volunteered on superintendent interview panels, district committees, the Estancia and TeWinkle Schools Foundation and PTA executive boards at Adams Elementary, TeWinkle Middle and Estancia High schools.

She also spent eight years on the Harbor Council PTA executive board, which works closely with various schools, teachers and district officials.

When Snell applied for the seat in March, she indicated that she planned to focus on keeping Estancia zone students whose parents might be tempted to enroll their children in neighboring districts.

She said she plans to continue pursuing that goal if elected.

"I want our schools to be every parent's first choice for their child's education," she said.

Snell said her experience as a volunteer in the district has prepared her for a role as trustee, especially when it comes to increasing parent involvement, which she said is traditionally lacking in Westside schools.

"Volunteering is all about getting other parents involved. That's what we really need to work on," she said. "We need the kids to be engaged, and the parents need to be engaged for the schools to be successful."

The process of becoming a board member was slightly intimidating, she said. However, in the past several months she has educated herself on district issues.

"I sat back at the beginning because I was trying to get my bearings," she said. "It's not my personality to argue before I have all the facts."

Snell said she became comfortable voicing her opinions to the board while her children attended Newport-Mesa schools.

"I know I have a strong voice," she said.

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