Jonathan Wright selected as interim school board member

Martinez Tribune

MARTINEZ, Calif. – Time will tell if the Wright choice was made.

Jonathan T. Wright, 35, that is, who was unanimously selected by the Martinez Unified School District Board on Monday to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Denise Elsken last December.

Interim Martinez Unified School District Board member Jonathan T. Wright. (BRETT BENZER / Courtesy)
Interim Martinez Unified School District Board member Jonathan T. Wright. (BRETT BENZER / Courtesy)
One thing is for sure – the newest member is determined to make the most of the opportunity.

“They took a chance on me and I want to do them right by doing my best in this position,’’ said Wright, who sees his work as a labor organizer and activist as an asset in his new capacity.

“I’m not just a place holder, he added.

An indication of the impression Wright left on the board who interviewed all eight applicants on Monday was the fact he received the most votes on the first ballot. 

The decision process involved each board member receiving three dots, and they were able to cast their votes in any way they chose.  Since four members cast their votes, there were 12 possible dots and Wright received six, according to Superintendent Rami Muth.

“I think the board made an excellent choice. Jonathan was articulate, well versed on the issues facing Martinez schools, and someone who seems passionate about ensuring all students receive a high quality education. I am looking forward to working with him,’’ Muth added.

Wright will officially take his seat on the panel at a special meeting Feb. 1, when he is sworn in by Karen Sakata, County Superintendent of Schools.

Wright acknowledges he has a lot to learn in his new job. But he is confident he is bringing necessary skill sets to that job.

“In my job, every day I have to use skills of diplomacy and relationship building,’’ he said. “I bring a body of experience that makes me well suited for sitting on the board.”

Among his goals for the year ahead is helping to bring the current ongoing contract negotiations between the district and its teachers to a positive conclusion.

His role in that process will be part of the continuing audition before voters and the community at large that he sees is a natural part of serving in an elected position.

“All elected officials are forever auditioning for the voters,’’ he said. “If voters are not happy, they will not get their jobs next time. For me, I went through the process with my eyes wide open.’

“I wouldn’t have applied for the interim position if I was not leaning toward running for the position in November,’’ he added.

Wright, a relatively new arrival to the Martinez community, lauded the district for being tremendously blessed from top to bottom and attributed this to the role the community plays. He recalled the day he saw the Homecoming parade as it passed by his home near the high school.

“A huge portion of the community came out to show their spirit and support,” he said. “People here take a lot of ownership in the students and their schools.”

“I believe in people power and giving a voice to everyone in the community,” Wright added.

Muth observed the board had a very difficult choice in selecting the person to fill this vacancy, with each of the candidates well qualified and possessing a unique perspective.

“I believe the board was looking for someone who would work well as part of a collaborative team and one who brought qualities that were not currently part of the governance team,” Muth said. “Jonathan is very civic minded and is someone who has done extensive work with labor unions. These are strengths that provide a nice complement to the team.”

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