Six Scramble for Two Seats on Goleta Union School Board

One Incumbent Faces Five Challengers in Most Competitive District Race in Decades

By: Delaney Smith | Published September 29, 2020
Pictured clockwise from top left are Goleta Union candidate and current school board president Sholeh Jahangir and challengers Caroline Abate, Devany Bechler, Greg Hammel, Vicki Ben-Yaacov, and Max Rorty. | Credit: Daniel Dreifuss and Courtesy

There are six candidates vying for two open seats on the Goleta Union school board — the district’s most competitive race in decades.

But what makes the race even more unique is not how many candidates are in the race, but how wide-ranging the candidates’ viewpoints are. From the most conservative candidates to those who lean hard left, from teachers and parents to engineers and foster parents, each personality brings his or her own vision for Goleta to the table.

Candidate and current board president Sholeh Jahangir, the only incumbent, is running to continue what she started. Candidate Caroline Abate is running to balance out the board with her conservative viewpoint, while Devany Bechler joined the six-way scramble simply to become more involved in her own and other kids’ educations.

As some candidates are parents, they also have their own quibbles with the district, such as Greg Hammel’s issue with inequitable literacy and math scores and Vicki Ben-Yaacov’s gripe that the schools waste pounds of food and don’t practice composting. Or there are candidates like Max Rorty, who doesn’t necessarily have issues with the district but believes she would be a great fit on the board now because of her background in social work.

The race is a toss-up. With five nonincumbents vying for a seat, it’s hard to say who will make the cut. The Independent interviewed each candidate to discuss their top issues.

4·1·1 | Watch our discussion with the Goleta Union School District Board of Education candidates.