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Citrus Heights vice mayor, mayor split on school board endorsements

San Juan Unified School District’s new 7-member trustee area map, for 2022. // SJUSD

Updated 9:58 a.m., Oct. 21–
Sentinel staff report– In the three-way race for a newly created school board seat covering the majority of Citrus Heights, the city’s mayor and vice mayor are split on who to recommend for the seat.

Citrus Heights Mayor Porsche Middleton has endorsed Murad “Moe” Sarama for the Area 7 seat on the San Juan Unified School District’s governing board, while Vice Mayor Tim Schaefer has endorsed Oleg Shishko.

Both Shishko and Sarama are parents and residents of Citrus Heights, with Sarama touting his status as “the only candidate for the trustee area that has kids enrolled in SJUSD.” Shishko, who is the youngest candidate in the race at age 29, says on his website that his children have yet to reach school age, and focuses his messaging on parental rights and opposition to how schools handled the coronavirus pandemic with forced masking.

In a press release announcing his endorsement, the vice mayor credited Shishko with being a key player in the campaign to defeat the city’s Measure M sales tax increase two years ago and said the candidate “also has a vested interest in providing the highest quality education for his children and as well as children of the city of Citrus Heights.”

Sarama, 45, says on his website that top priorities will be encouraging collaboration and building bridges, providing support and resources, and prioritizing safety and security.

The school board race, although nonpartisan, has attracted endorsements from the region’s major political parties. The Democratic Party of Sacramento County has endorsed Sarama, while the Sacramento County Republican Party has endorsed Steve Miller for the Area 7 seat.

Miller, 64, who currently sits on the Citrus Heights City Council, announced earlier this year that he is retiring from the position. His son is a Mesa Verde High School graduate and currently coaches sports.

From July: Miller to run for new school board seat in Citrus Heights

Schaefer has also endorsed in SJUSD’s Area 4 election, encouraging voters to select Tanya Kravchuk. Middleton confirmed with The Sentinel last week that she has only opted to endorse in the Area 7 race.

The SJUSD school board last year voted to expand its ranks to seven elected members, up from the original five, creating one dedicated seat covering Citrus Heights. The board also voted to elect its members by trustee area, rather than at-large.

The trustee area map adopted by the school board gives Citrus Heights a guaranteed seat on the board with Area 7, whereas “at-large” voting before led to the city not having one of its residents on the school board for more than a decade. Voters will now elect one member from their specific area of the district to represent them on the board, rather than elect all school board members at large.

Citrus Heights residents will have the chance to potentially occupy up to four seat on the board, as the newly created Area 5 includes a portion of the Citrus Heights, east of San Juan Avenue and Old Auburn Road. A small portion of Citrus Heights is also included in areas 4 and 6. (See map)

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