Goleta resident Luz Reyes-Martin will join the Goleta Union School District as its newest board member after being appointed Monday morning to fill a vacant seat.

Luz Reyes-Martin

Luz Reyes-Martin

Of the six candidates, Reyes-Martin showed a lot of passion for students and dedication to the job, current board members said. Since the appointment was posted, she attended every school board meeting and visited all nine of the district’s K-6 schools. 

She could be a role model to students, since she started out as an English learner student in the free-and-reduced lunch program before attending Stanford University and the University of Southern California, according to board member Susan Epstein.

Reyes-Martin works for the City of Goleta’s Neighborhood Services and Public Safety department and regularly connects with community groups and Spanish-speaking residents. Members said she will add a fresh, valuable perspective for the board.

“We want someone able to articulate our vision and go out into the community,” said board member Valerie Kushnerov, who knows Reyes-Martin from working at the city. “I love the passion that Luz has.”

The district decided all of the candidates would make worthy additions to the board, but unanimously voted to appoint Reyes-Martin to the post left empty by Pam Kinsley’s resignation.

“I am honored to serve as a board member for the Goleta Union School District,” she said in an email. “I am very thankful to the board and the district staff for a process that really made each candidate think about their role and the priorities of the district. I think the board had a tough decision since all applicants were qualified. I am excited about the appointment and ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work.”

The other candidates were Therese Adame, Andrew Firestone, Nancy Knight, Doug Martin and Alexander Saunders.

Board members decided to pick someone who was willing to run for a full term in November’s election, which discounted Martin, who only wanted to be a temporary replacement.

They were most impressed with Reyes-Martin in Monday’s interview and wanted the perspective of a community member and Spanish speaker on the board.

She is scheduled to be sworn in at the April 9 meeting, her first on the board.

Some people are intimidated by the election process (or filing fees) and a lot of good people won’t run for office, board members said after the vote. They said they were impressed with the field of candidates for appointment and hope the rest run for office in November, when there are three seats open.

Reyes-Martin attended a Head Start school for early education and was an English language learner in elementary school, she told the board in her application letter. She was involved in the GATE program and eventually went to Stanford University for her undergraduate degree and USC for graduate work in public administration.

“The success I have had in my life is directly the result of a cadre of supportive parents, teachers and family,” she wrote.

She’s a member of several community boards, including the Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee and the Latina Leaders Network.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at gmagnoli@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.