It was an unusual kind of group job interview: Six local residents, hoping for a shot at the open seat on the San Mateo Union High School District board of trustees, crammed into a to make their pitch to the sitting board members.
And after much discussion with each candidate, and some deliberation by the board, members settled on Burlingame resident Marc Friedman to fill the seat.
The seat became vacant in May after then-trustee to the county Board of Supervisors. Seven people had applied for Pine’s seat, although only six showed up for their interview Thursday evening: Friedman, Michael Loy, Robert Mason, Elizabeth Frykberg, Charles Zelnik and Jose Gonzalez. Rhonda Collins decided to withdraw her candidacy.
“We were greatly appreciative of the wide results that we got, and think we have a great group of candidates to chose from,” said board president Stephen Rogers.
The six prospective appointees drew lots to decide the order of their interviews, and each candidate was questioned individually, without the others in the room – a policy intended to foster “a more honest dialogue,” Rogers said.
First up was Loy, an Aragon High School graduate and former PTO president. Asked what he believed the board’s purpose to be, he answered, “I see it as setting policy, and also I like to see us be visible with the community as part of the community.”
Loy said he would bring that community-mindedness, along with his construction-industry background, to the board.
“Born and raised here in San Mateo, I really know what San Mateo is like,” he said.
Friedman, a former trustee of the Burlingame Elementary School District, said his strengths include “eight years of experience serving on a school board, and so I understand how a school board works. … I can be off and running the first day.”
“I also have been involved in the district,” Friedman said – for example, he chaired the campaign – “so I understand the financial issues” in this particular district.
Other prospective appointees followed, including Robert Mason, the youngest of the candidates, is a full-time student at Dominican University in San Rafael – but he said that wouldn’t get in the way of his duties as a trustee.
Asked whether they would run for election in November, many of the candidates said they would – so long as the board appointed them now. Observers said being an “appointed incumbent” gave an enormous advantage against outsiders running in November.
Another candidate, Hillsborough resident Elizabeth Frykberg, told the board she had an extensive and diverse background which included a Ph.D. incorporating education, theology and developmental psychology and six years as a youth minister in Southern California.
The board's decision was unanimous. Friedman will be sworn in during the board’s July 28 meeting.
Anyone still wanting a seat on the five-member SMUHSD board will get another chance in November – two terms, including Friedman’s, will expire then, to be filled by whoever the voters choose during the general election.