Meet Omar Medina, Candidate for Santa Rosa City School Board Trustee for Area 4

Third time’s the charm, at least that is the goal. Omar A. Medina is running for Santa Rosa City Schools Board of Trustee Area 4. In early 2018, after push from the community and legally, the Santa Rosa City School district boundaries went from 5 areas to now 7. The new district boundary change and addition was proposed and passed by the school board because it would increase Latino voting power and representation. As a result, this new change has meant that instead of one opening in the board there are three. Two of the seats have gone uncontested, and both candidates are women of color. However, Omar is running against an incumbent.

Nevertheless, Omar is not new to running a campaign and most importantly not new to the scene of educational advocacy. Omar ran for the first time in 2004 and then in 2014. Both of his campaigns advocated for A – G curriculum for all, this policy was just passed at the Santa Rosa City Schools after weeks of hour-long board meetings, where unfortunately parents were being questioned if they even understood what it meant to enroll their children in A – G curriculum. At the several school board meetings, Omar spoke up. He shared that the lack of an A – G curriculum as the base for graduation robbed his brother of opportunities, because he was not seen as college material. This was the same reasoning why he ran in the first place in 2004.

Omar is the first in his family to attend public schools in the United States. He is a son of immigrant parents with limited schooling. He had to learn first hand what it is like to navigate the K – 12 system on his own and then shared what he learned with his brother and younger friends.  Yet, being the first did not stop him from being involved. Omar attended Lawrence Cook Junior High where his career in politics would begin. At Cook, Omar became the vice-president of the Mexican American Youth Organization. He would go on to become president and founding member of SOL (Socially Organized Latinos). During his freshman year at Cook, he was elected vice-president of the Associated Student Body through which he was also appointed to the Lawrence Cook SITE Council. During this time, Omar was the only non-High School student to serve on the Latino Student Congress of Sonoma County. In 1994, he graduated from Cook and was awarded the Lawrence Cook Honor Award.

While at Cook, Omar was selected to serve on the Elsie Allen High School Planning Committee, where he took part in selecting the school colors, mascot, uniforms and helped create a foundation for future students to develop. In 1994, Omar was voted the first ASB President for Elsie Allen High School, and in 1996 he would be re-elected. Omar served on the Elsie Allen High School SITE Council for all three of his years there. In 1995, he served as the EAHS Commissioner for the California Association of Student Councils. In 1997, Omar became a member of Elsie Allen High School’s first-ever graduating class.

During his time at Elsie Allen High School, Omar had his first non-profit experience by serving on the founding Board of Directors for the Southwest Community Health Clinic. Omar served two terms representing the teens of Southwest Santa Rosa on the Santa Rosa Teen Council. It was also during this time that he had his first experience in developing public policy through the YMCA’s Youth & Government Model Legislature Program at the capitol in Sacramento.

After high school, Omar continued his education at Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC) where he would experience a new level of governing. He served as the Senator of Student Services, Vice-President of Organizations, and Executive Vice President. While at SRJC, he gained valuable experience in educational bureaucracy by serving on various committees including the District Facilities Planning Committee, President’s Budget Advisory Committee, and the Calendar Committee among others.

In 2003, Omar graduated from SRJC receiving his A.S. in Liberal Studies. He transferred to Sonoma State University to pursue a degree in History and CALS (Chicano and Latino Studies). Since then, Omar, has continued his advocacy for educational equity at all levels. In 2016, he became my campaign manager and together with his insight we won a seat allowing me to become the first Latina to serve on the board of trustees for the Santa Rosa Junior College. Omar is committed to see that our students from early schooling to their high school graduation realize their dreams, doing so by providing them the tools necessary to succeed. Currently, Omar is the Coordinator for the UndocuFund that was founded in 2017 after the Santa Rosa Tubbs fires. He continues to advocate and provide support to some of the most marginalized group in the county becoming even more informed of their needs and best ways to assist them.

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Mariana Martinez

Mariana Martinez

Mariana G. Martinez, PhD, is the eldest of three and the first in her family to earn a high school diploma and a higher education. She was raised by immigrant parents that encouraged her to get an education so that one day she could work as a secretary and not in a physically laboring job like the fields. Mariana has been an advocate in the field of education for almost 2 decades. Her love and passion in education began as Senior in high school interning at a local elementary school. Currently Mariana is the Research Coordinator for the McNair Scholar Program, a federally funded program that serves first generation and historically low income students pursue the next of their educational goals, at Sonoma State University. She is also a Lecturer in the Chican@ and Latin@ Studies Department.

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