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Four locals poised to run for La Cañada school board

The La Cañada school board race is quickly taking shape as four candidates have so far said they will run for one of three open seats in the November election.

Two candidates are under the age of 30: Joe Layton, who ran for a seat on the La Cañada Flintridge City Council in March, and Karyn Riel, a former camp director at the Crescenta-Cañada Family YMCA. Both have started the paperwork with the county registrar's office to run for a seat on the board.

Dan Jeffries, a prosecutor with the Los Angeles City Attorney's office, filed papers on Friday. David Sagal, an executive and attorney for Warner Bros. who has two children enrolled in the district, pulled papers to run for a seat on the board last week.

Voters will elect three members to the five-person board on Nov. 5. Incumbents Scott Tracy and Susan Boyd have said they will not seek reelection, while board member Joel Peterson is undecided.

Layton said he decided to start his second campaign this year after community members nudged him to start a campaign. "I've kind of been inspired by how supportive the community has been and how receptive they've been."

Layton did not attend La Cañada schools. His family moved to the city in 2004, and he graduated from Loyola High School, followed by USC. But the 24-year-old said having two younger siblings currently enrolled in the La Cañada district, along with the fact that he was recently a student, would give him a unique perspective.

He also said having different generations on the board is key.

"I think it's good to have people more older and experienced as well as people who recently graduated from college," he said.

Layton said key issues of his campaign will include a push to bring the "Sagebrush" area, the westernmost part of the city, out of Glendale Unified School District and into the La Cañada district, and the Common Core curriculum standards.

Riel, 29, is a native of La Cañada and used to live in the Sagebrush area. She graduated from La Cañada High School and is currently studying for her doctorate in clinical psychology at Pepperdine University. Riel works as a counselor for a low-performing high school in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

She said a suicide on campus at La Cañada High in March "hit close to home" and made her consider running for a seat on the school board.

"Seeing that happen in our own hometown really triggered something in me and motivated me to get involved," she said.

La Cañada Unified's response to the death was done "beautifully," she said, but there is an opportunity to do more to prevent future incidents.

In her role at LAUSD, she said she has provided mental health services to special needs students. If elected, she said she would like to use that experience to form a template for dealing with mental health issues at La Cañada Unified.

Jeffries, 55, moved to La Cañada in 2003 and is the father of five children. His three youngest children attend Palm Crest Elementary.

He said he saw the openings on the school board as an opportunity to get involved. "I think we've got such great schools in La Cañada that I want to do what I can to keep them great."

Jeffries said teacher collaboration days and other efforts that work to find out the best way to tackle an issue interest him.

"One of the things I think is important is to build a consensus and have a transparent process," said Jeffries.

The filing period for the election opened on July 15 and ends on Aug. 9.

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Follow Tiffany Kelly on Google+ and on Twitter: @LATiffanyKelly.

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Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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