Alex Shantz could be poised to take over Sean Maher’s seat on the St. Helena Unified School District board of trustees.
With three seats available, two incumbents – Maria Haug and Cindy Smith – filed for re-election, but Trustee Sean Maher decided not to seek another term.
The deadline to file was extended to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 13. Unless a fourth person enters the race on Wednesday after the Star’s deadline, Haug, Smith and Shantz will be elected automatically without appearing on the November ballot.
Shantz, 26, grew up in Deer Park and attended Foothills Adventist Elementary, Pacific Union College Elementary School, RLS Middle School, St. Helena High School and New Tech High School in Napa. He graduated through an independent studies program.
After transferring from Napa Valley College to Sacramento State University, Shantz moved back into the family home in Deer Park, which is within the St. Helena Unified School District. He plans to commute to Sac State, where he’ll major in philosophy with a concentration in ethics, law and politics.
“No matter where I am, I always want to be involved and be civically engaged,” Shantz said. “I knew I was going to move back to Deer Park, and I wanted to find out what was happening in the community and find ways to get involved.”
He said running for St. Helena school board made sense given his “passion for public education” and involvement in government at Napa Valley College, where he served as student trustee during his last semester.
Shantz serves on the Napa County Gang and Youth Violence Commission, and was recently elected to its Executive Committee. He’s also been active in the Green Party, as co-coordinator for the Napa County Green Party and the Green Party of California.
He said that in consulting with Board President Jeannie Kerr and researching the Star archives, he learned that the current board values transparency and public participation. “Those are two things I value quite a bit,” Shantz said.
He’s confident he’ll be able to serve as trustee while attending Sac State. “My term would start toward the end of my first semester, so by that time I’ll be able to arrange my schedule in a way that it won’t conflict,” he said.
Last month, Smith told the Star she’s seeking another term so she can see a few projects that started during her term come to fruition, like facilities projects and the integration of the Common Core standards into the district’s curriculum.
Haug, who was elected to fill a vacant seat in 2012, said there was a steep learning curve during her first year on the board, but by now she’s learned enough to contribute more effectively.
“I’m excited about some of the transitions that we’ve put on track, and I’d love to see them through,” Haug said. “We have new leadership, we’re moving to the Common Core, we have all these facilities that are almost finished, and we have the (high school) auditorium. I feel that it’s helpful to have some continuity on the board when we have these big projects going.”
Mayor, City Council
Mayor Ann Nevero will face challenger Alan Galbraith, a retired attorney and former planning commissioner.
In her candidate statement, Nevero said she’s seeking another term because she loves St. Helena and feels the council has made good progress and is poised to accomplish much more.
“My priorities are clear – solid economic sustainability, a robust infrastructure, high-quality city services, and diligently preserving our small-town character,” she said. “We are excited about our selection of a new city manager bringing much-needed fresh energy and ideas, building a dynamic new leadership team, modernizing outdated city processes and innovatively improving city services. Going forward, we must work diligently to find smart solutions to provide the additional revenue needed to meet the rising costs to run the city, and improve services for our community.”
Galbraith, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2012, said he’s running again “because I am committed to the betterment of St. Helena. We have a beautiful town and we all care about it deeply. But it is clear that new leadership is needed to address, in a way that does not divide us, the very real issues facing our community. My hope is to provide that leadership.”
With two regular council seats available, incumbents Mario Sculatti and Peter White will face attorney Paul Dohring.
Sculatti, who was appointed to the council in 2013, said he wants to “serve and preserve St. Helena,” where his forefathers settled 113 years ago.
“Our town has a beautiful, abundant and healthy future, only as long as we continue to set policies that protect and lift up our community,” Sculatti said.
White, elected in 2010 after serving on the Planning Commission for two years, said he wants to “build on the success of my first term.” In his candidate statement, he said the council has restored its General Fund reserve to pre-recession levels while contributing more than $1 million to road repairs and maintenance.
White represents the city on the Napa County Transportation and Planning Agency, which he said retooled the St. Helena shuttle service to increase ridership by 147 percent, and on the Napa Valley Transportation Authority, which crafted the policy guiding the use of Measure T funds to fix potholes and repair roads and sidewalks.
Paul Dohring, who served on the Calistoga City Council before moving to St. Helena, said he’s running “because I have always had a strong commitment to hard work and public service and a deep desire to preserve our sense of community.
“If elected, I fully intend to work collaboratively with my fellow councilmembers in search of both common ground and common sense solutions to the significant challenges we face. My experience as a local attorney, an elected City Council member, an active community volunteer and a husband and father has provided me with the perspective, skill and temperament to effectively lead this process.”