As a 36 year resident of Nipomo, a Cal Poly graduate, and a veteran teacher in the Lucia Mar Unified School District, I am deeply committed to public education. I’m the mother of two daughters who are proud alumni and graduates of LMUSD schools. I know from experience how decisions made by the School Board impact every child in every classroom. I bring to the Board my unique insight and experience as a classroom teacher who has spent my professional career advocating for excellence and student success. I know firsthand that district resources, thoughtfully prioritized, can build an enriching, challenging, and supportive learning environment for our youth.




FPPC #1455447

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Your vote for me on November 8th ensures that a strong, passionate, and experienced advocate for public education has a seat at the table, promoting academic excellence, opportunities, and support for our children and our community.


Why am I running for School Board?

I taught math–from algebra to AP Calculus–at Nipomo High School for 16 years. I have a strong commitment to my profession, to public education, and to the Lucia Mar Unified School District. Service on the School Board ensures that I can continue my work serving the students and families of Nipomo. I have experience with governance and relationships within the district which have prepared me for this role. I have regularly attended school board meetings over many years. A vote for me is a vote for a knowledgeable, prepared, and tested advocate for public education and for our students.

My Goals:

1: Prioritize district spending to serve students by investing directly in classroom resources and a robust learning environment, with a focus on equity and access for all students.

2: Respect and support teachers and support staff as the district’s primary agents for creating an enriching, challenging, and supportive learning environment for all students; commit to invest in attracting and retaining a highly-qualified teaching and support staff.

3: Prioritize district investment in support services, such as school nurses and counselors, in order to proactively create a safer learning environment and improve working and learning conditions in our schools.


Donna Kandel is a person of strength, courage and compassion. As a former Superintendent of Lucia Mar, I had the opportunity to work alongside Donna during a time that called for focus on priorities and restoration of relationships and trust. This required collaboration, communication, trust and honesty–the “give and take” required in collaborative relationships. Donna paired that collaboration with her solid advocacy of public education; targeting accessibility for all students and equity in the learning environment. At the same time, Donna is realistic, and able to prioritize the needs and align those priorities with the fiscal and human resources available. Donna understands that the best teaching, learning and student support grows and blossoms in an environment where teachers and other staff are challenged and supported, student learning is top priority, and the individual needs of all students are considered in the educational process.” —Raynee Daley, former Superintendent, Lucia Mar Unified School District*

“Donna Kandel is a person of exceptional intelligence, compassion, and integrity.  She is careful, thoughtful, and fair.  She asks useful, probing questions.  If elected, Donna would bring to the school board not only the perspective of a parent and community member, but the experience of a classroom teacher as well.  This cannot be overemphasized.  Donna is better suited to anticipate how Board decisions will affect teaching and learning because she has seen firsthand how these things play out.  The voters of Trustee Area 7 have a unique opportunity here to bring someone to the Board with vital experience and an invaluable perspective, a person who was student-centered as an educator and who will be student-centered on the Board.”Branden J. Leach, Retired Teacher, LMUSD

“Donna Kandel is the epitome of advocacy for ALL youth. As an educator now myself, I know I would not be where I am without her patience, energy, and vision for the future. When I was her student, she invested the time and care that all young minds deserve. I wholeheartedly support her candidacy because I know it means that the students are in excellent hands.” —Gian Hernandez, PhD, Nipomo High School Class of 2007

“Donna is one of the most level headed thoughtful people I know. Her ability to see the big picture and also to have empathy for every person who comes into her life would make her an excellent person. The fact that she was also an amazing math teacher and understands the numbers is icing on the cake!”Anna Zucker, Retired teacher, LMUSD Parent

“There are few people, male or female, that I hold in higher regard than Donna Kandel. She is a dynamic woman of unsurpassed grace, virtue, compassion, empathy and intelligence. I’ve experienced this amazing individual within no fewer than three diverse roles. As an advanced math (AP Calculus) educator of my oldest child at Nipomo High School (during his journey to becoming a physician), as an esteemed colleague in education, and as a dear friend. I admire the way Donna conducts herself publicly and professionally. I’ve observed her literally walk into a contentious meeting where emotions are running high, calm in her demeanor, then subsequently deescalate the situation and turn it into a productive session. Donna doesn’t just listen to people, she really takes the time to hear what they are saying, to understand what is truly important to them. When she participates in a meeting, at its conclusion, everyone leaves the room feeling they have been respected, that their voice matters, and that they have been heard. Those extraordinary listening skills coupled with Donna’s authentic nature are just a couple of the reasons why she is also such a good friend. I know no matter what the circumstances, I can count on Donna to be honest with me, to provide advice in a manner that is not just constructive, but heartfelt. I have no doubt whatsoever that Donna Kandel is exactly what the Lucia Mar School Board needs. The students will be her priority and her unmatched integrity will make her the leader that the students (and the parents) of Lucia Mar School District deserve. I wholeheartedly endorse Donna Kandel for the position of Board Member for the Lucia Mar Unified School District.”Ann Elliott, Lucia Mar teacher, parent

“I was thrilled to learn Donna Kandel  is running for Lucia Mar School Board. Over the 30 years I have known her, wherever she has worked Donna has been a fierce advocate for families; standing up for parents’ and children’s rights. She is an independent and deep thinker. She has been a stay-at-home mother, a returning to college mother, and a working Nipomo High School teacher mother. Always respectful of her collegues, always caring of her students, always working toward building solid foundations. Always willing to hear the other side. Always willing to take a stand for what she knows to be true. As a parent of an AG High graduate, I am happy to endorse Donna Kandel for the school board. She has the experience and temperament to be a perfect addition to the board.”Jennifer Stover, MaMa Mentor

“I have been a teacher and administrator for 44 years (Santa Barbara City College, Marymount, Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth, Swiss International School, to name a few) and have known Donna Kandel for 45 years. I can attest that Donna is an individual of irreproachable character, integrity, credibility, and wisdom. Whether our discussions over the decades concerned students, parents, administrators, school boards, or curriculum, I have always found that Donna’s thinking on these subjects came down to one simple question: “What is best for the students”. Using this qualifier, I have no doubt that Donna will approach her position on the LMUSD school board with unique experience, qualifications, and the thoughtful perspective that I have always known from her. It’s really about the students and their families, isn’t it? Donna is prepared and capable of being their advocate as the county navigates the uncertain academic waters that surely lie ahead. At a time of such uncertainty and questionable credibility on so many levels, it’s a relief when we find something and/or someone we can trust. We can trust Donna.
Timothy A. Pearson, retired teacher


Lucia Mar Unified Teachers Association–LMUTA

Judy Frost, Chair, Santa Barbara County Office of Education*

Don Stewart, President, Lucia Mar Board of Trustees*

Colleen Martin, Trustee, Lucia Mar Board of Trustees*

Mary Strobridge, Trustee, Cuesta College Board of Trustees*

Gwyn Kelly, retired teacher

Bill Ridge, teacher

Linda and Terry Albert, retired teachers

Dan Woodson, NCSD Director*

Shatter PAC

Central Coast Labor Council

*For identification purposes only
FPPC #1455447
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