Escalante, Blank lead LWSD race

LAKEWOOD — Oscar Escalante and Michael Blank are leading in the race for the Lakewood School District Director District 1 position, as of 5 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 8.

“I will have to be talking with the voters,” said Escalante, who received 742 votes or 41.57 percent of total votes counted. “I feel that people in the community have been watching the work that’s been done in Lakewood.”

Escalante believes that his track record of work within the district has helped garner support for him, while Blank believes that his new ideas and fresh perspective are what drew so many votes.

“I think it’s time for fresh blood and new ideas,” said Blank, who received 672 votes or 37.65 percent of the total votes counted in his first election. “Who knows, maybe people are saying ‘Thank you for your work for the last 12 years but let’s bring in someone new.’”

Blank said his ideas on how to build the new high school facility simply make sense to the voters — to save money and reroute those dollars into teachers’ salaries. Escalante is hoping that his proven ability to improve the district will draw support.

“There are voters there who are showing that support based on my previous work,” he said. “It’s good to notice that, because it only reassures that my commitment to the district is ultimately to serve our kids. That’s the bottom line, to serve our students. Parents have seen that commitment before when I was a soccer coach, PTA president, Rotary member and involved in different activities in my community. I believe that’s what is helping me.”

The newfound competition is a change to the district race, which rarely sees opposition between candidates.

“I’m hoping that my views are going to resonate with the general public,” said Blank. “This is the first in four elections that he’s had an opponent, but I think it’s always a good thing to have competition, because it gives the voters options.”

It is in fact the first time in 12 years that Escalante has run against another candidate in the district race.

“This is unprecedented,” he said. “We have never had this in Lakewood School District that I know of, and I have always run unopposed, so I am not familiar with campaigning either.”

Despite not being used to the opposition, Escalante is welcoming the change.

“It is good because I believe as a district we need to hear from our residents and the community,” he said. “He has an interest to serve the community and that’s what we both want — to work for our community.”

Lionel ‘Pete’ Espinoza also ran for the position and trailed Escalante and Blank with 354 votes or 19.83 percent of total votes counted. The top two candidates will advance to the general election on Nov. 5.

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