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EGUSD Board Race: Ly and Rambo Face off in Area 6

Sacramento County Office of Education employee Steve Ly is challenging appointed incumbent Jake Rambo.

The two candidates facing each other in the Area 6 race for the Elk Grove Unified School District Board of Education have more in common than they may think: Both have spent many years in education, both are married to educators and both have at least one son in an Elk Grove elementary school.

But they have their differences, too.

[Editor's note: This is the first in a series of profiles of the candidates running for school board in Elk Grove. Check back to read about the races for Area 1 and Area 7. Within each story, the candidates will be presented alphabetically by last name. ]

Steve Ly Wants to Correct 'Disconnect'

Steve Ly just wants a chance to talk to union leaders without anyone else in the room. 

Ly, who is running for a seat on the Elk Grove Unified School District Board of Education, said trustees should be able to talk with labor representatives without mediators or attorneys.

"I know that we all have the same interests–we all know that," he said. "But the question is, how come we can't sit together and actually find a solution we can all agree on? The more we talk, the closer we come to finding a resolution."

He said mediators being involved in talks between the district and its labor unions "means they've reached a point where they're not communicating with each other."

If he's elected, Ly said he will establish informal, regular meetings with labor unions and constituents. 

Ly ran for school board a decade ago, and is married to a library media teacher at . He works for the Sacramento County Office of Education and has worked in youth violence prevention and anti-bullying programs. He is also a former truancy officer for the Washington Unified School District in West Sacramento, and is a native of Laos. He has two sons at .

Ly is critical of the , and said it shows a "disconnect" between the school board and its constituents. He called himself "an advocate for the front line, the trench," and said the district should cut equally "across the board."

He also criticized the district's to the school board, saying that while it saves the cost of holding a special election, it "circumvents" voters and gives those appointees––an unfair advantage come election time.

"It would probably be a lot cheaper if we just appointed a president instead of electing one–then why do we have an election? Because this is a democracy."

Jake Rambo: Budget Troubles Threaten District's Existence

Jake Rambo couldn't stay away from Elk Grove schools for long.  

"I basically graduated on a Friday in June and I was right back at within weeks [volunteering]," Rambo said. 

The longtime resident and state administrative law judge was appointed to the Elk Grove Unified School District Board of Education in March, and is running for election for the first time this November. He served on Elk Grove's Charter Commission, and has worked as a Deputy District Attorney in Yolo and Amador counties, as well as helping to train prosecutors and set up a domestic violence prosecution program in Afghanistan. His wife teaches in the Sacramento City Unified School District.

He said in the time he's spent on the board, the biggest eye-opener has been just how dire the district's budget is. 

"We have teachers that are asking for donations of paper from their students," Rambo said, adding that the budget challenges pose "an existential threat against" the district.

But he said the current economic situation can be an opportunity for the district to learn and find new efficiencies. 

"Really, what we have to be doing is taking advantage of the opportunity to learn from this time," Rambo said.

Rambo, who has a son in the fourth grade at and two other sons who are toddlers, said he also wants to work to maintain good relationships with the district's labor unions. He and other board members will soon be trained in "interest-based bargaining" techniques, he said.

He also wants to mandate funding for technology, saying the district should treat it more like paying the electric or water bill.

"With utilities [like] water, power, sewer, you pay those bills, period, end of discussion," he said. "You can't have a school without them."

Rambo said he credits his success in life to the education he received in the Elk Grove Unified School District, and wants to "pay it forward" by volunteering. He coaches a mock trial team at Elk Grove High School, and worked for a time as a substitute teacher. He said since joining the board, he's proud of the work he's done on anti-bullying and ensuring employees who are in the military won't lose wages if they are called to duty.

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Bruce September 06, 2012 at 06:39 PM
Marion - take your approach, no more election henceforth, no more election for school board, save money.
Robert September 06, 2012 at 06:52 PM
Enough is enough!!!!! There is currently three appointed members on this board. No wonder the top brass still gets a raise when everyone else has been cut to the bone! This board is the biggest SCAM in Elk Grove history. The voters of Elk Grove knows this and will make their voices heard in November!
Bruce September 06, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Amen!!!
Robert September 06, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Amar, I question this process. Is this neccessarily a good process? Isn't there an inherent conflict of interest in this process? Obviously, the current administration and board will only appoint and approve their own people to the board as evident in the top brass getting raises while everyone in the district has been gutted. Perhaps its time to challenge this corrupt system!
Marion September 06, 2012 at 07:08 PM
"By the way, is Rambo really advocating for you or is he for the one who appointed him? Think about it, my friend." ??? I'm not even going to begin to wonder what the heck that meant. You don't know me, I don't know you. I don't know Steve and I'm not advocating for Rambo. I am disgusted with the comments on wasteful spending. Bruce, Steve Ly or whatever mouth piece you are, why are you defending him? Why can't Steve Ly respond on his own? My comments are solely on wasteful spending on special elections, what's your problem?
TP Gomez September 06, 2012 at 07:28 PM
This sealed the deal for me. Tough economic times calls for tough decision making and Mr. Steve Ly has provn that he can't be trusted with taxpayer dollars. Research shows that special elections cost more than half a million to a million dollars. Why not advocate for members to finish their terms? Sorry Steve but this was a bad idea. I also find it troubling, if true that you once applied for the same appointment you now condemn. You are proving to be a good poltiician who talks both sides of his mouth. The election is upon us. You have your opportunity to make your case.
M.Legison September 06, 2012 at 07:28 PM
I would be extremely wary of anyone from the County Office of Education on a school board. Does anyone know anything about this Ly, or who might be behind his campaign? I smell an agenda, but can't put my finger on it.
Robert September 06, 2012 at 07:36 PM
Many people within the EGUSD knew that former Trustee in Area 4 was going to resign, however, the current board sat on this knowledge and circumvented the voters by waiting until July 2nd so they could make their own appointment. Public records will show that this is case and that the board blatantly disregard the election process. Afterall, this is an election year. This board has played this SCAM for too long. LET THE VOTERS DECIDE!!!!!
Marion September 06, 2012 at 07:42 PM
Please apply this same logic to Gary Davis and demand he resign so that Nancy Chaires can face the election. Conspiracy theorists die a quick death. He's been running for last 2 years, he shouldnt have run for City Council. He could also have stepped down in time for this year's election. Oh that's right, rules don't apply when they are for you!
TP Gomez September 06, 2012 at 07:51 PM
Amar, This seems to make a lot of good sense. Robert, I agree the district has been gutted, that's why I was surprised Ly was in favor of special elections that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. I think Mr. Ly is better served focusing on real issues to help our kids versus negative campaign tactics.
TP Gomez September 06, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Interesting observation Marion.
TP Gomez September 06, 2012 at 07:55 PM
I don't understand this point?
Robert September 06, 2012 at 08:02 PM
Anyone who has been reading these Patch articles will know that former Trustee 4 officially announced her resignation on June 5 (many people, including the board knew of this eventual resignation way earlier), yet her official resignation date is July 2 which is conveniently three days after June 29 (which is the deadline date for the November election) The voters of EGUSD are not stupid, this is a BLATANT example of what this board has been doing all these years. Let the voters decide who represents them and their children at the board.
Bruce September 06, 2012 at 08:11 PM
Marion - First off, I"m not Steve's mouth piece, but I do agree with his vision on how he wants to help the district. You certainly talk like you are advocating for his opponent - Mr. Rambo, please read the article again. If you're not advocating for him, then who are you advocating for? Who do you want to win? You confuse me. Last of all, I want you to know that wee all care about wasteful spending, including Steve, however, you should know that special elections do serve their purpose too. By the way, I have no problem with you, just your attack on him that I know is not true.
Bruce September 06, 2012 at 08:18 PM
Legison - To the best of my knowledge, he's a common man, trying to get the opportunity to help fix something he believe is broken. I don't think he has any other agenda or any mysterious group behind his campaign. I'm not involved in his campaign, but I said this only because I've known him for a long time. Feel free to research more on him and his campaign & vote you heart base on what you know when the time comes.
Bruce September 06, 2012 at 08:18 PM
Robert - I agree with you. Let the voters decide.
Rob Durburough September 06, 2012 at 09:15 PM
Gary Davis has got to go!
Marion September 06, 2012 at 09:34 PM
What does this have to do with Gary Davis?
questionable September 07, 2012 at 04:13 PM
OMG. The question is, do we trust this Steve guy when we really dig into him? There might be some hidden things about him within his native community that we are not aware of.
questionable September 07, 2012 at 04:18 PM
I mean, he's too cocky and do we need a cocky perosn to represent us? He thinks he's the big head of his community. I know that there will be some of his advocates coming in here to try to offend him like those comments before but, keep it straight as to who he really is. I may not even vote for any of this two but just wanna make voters aware of who they vote for. I mean, if he ran before and didn't get it, why not contribute his time and dedications or voice to the district instead of doing something else?
Bob September 07, 2012 at 04:32 PM
All voters, please investigate. By all means, research, ask, dig in, find out. Let's make sure Steve Ly doesn't pull a typical lawyer trick of "deflect and BS" as we have seen in one of city council meeting. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-lH8N3pp_A
Elk Resident September 08, 2012 at 08:08 PM
Unless Steve Ly or Jake Rambo work as a board member for free, neither are really for the kids. The teachers are the real people who work with our kids. They spend 7-8 hours working with our children. They rarely take time off for themselves or their families but the District is always looking at ways to cut school programs or reduced teaching staff BUT NEVER EVER a reduction in administration (especially administrator salaries). It's sad to note that too many parents fail to exercise their parental duties to teach basic facts of life. Politicians run for public office for their personal or financial gains regardless of their party affiliation or their campaign promises.
Bob September 09, 2012 at 04:47 AM
Who is Jake Rambo? Deep Connection with Pombo and Lungren. http://www.smartvoter.org/1998nov/ca/sac/vote/rambo_j/bio.html Connection with Conflict of Interest scandal during Charter Commission http://egcitizen.com/articles/2009/02/12/news/doc4992fe28a6880679195349.txt Ran for 4 separate public offices - all unsuccessful Jake Rambo ran for Elk Grove City Council, Congress, Assembly and twice for CSD. And who could forget the unforgettable Cooper vs. Rambo as posted above?
Bob September 09, 2012 at 05:03 AM
This is, in fact, an excellent excellent idea!! All board members should forego their salary and health benefits. It's not like they really needed anyways. If anyone knows how to make this happen or know how we can pressure the board to proceed this path, please advise? This is an absolute serious issue, please help, anyone?
CHuck Williams September 09, 2012 at 05:54 AM
Seriously, you Steve Ly guys are desperate. This race is about a guys high school internship or who he worked for in college? Lame. Your article link says he did the right thing, addressed bs rumors head onand put them to bed. Cooper is a jerk, I'm glad someone stood up to him with facts. It's like you found some links Bob but didn't watch or read them. I've watched local politics a long time. Rambo never ran for city council, assembly, or Congress. You must have him confused with Gary Davis, he ran for all of those I think. Seriously, you're not helping Steve Ly with the personal bs. Focus on the issues. I don't want the school board to become a nasty swamp like city hall.
Cody Kitaura (Editor) September 10, 2012 at 08:29 PM
Bob, when did Jake Rambo run for city council, congress or assembly? I think you're mistaken on that information. Also, I covered the charter commission pretty closely at my previous job and I don't recall any "scandal" beyond that article you linked to.
Cody Kitaura (Editor) September 10, 2012 at 08:29 PM
Hi everyone, here's an update on the school board race: Meet the three candidates running in Area 7: http://patch.com/A-x65j
Cody Kitaura (Editor) September 12, 2012 at 10:45 PM
Hi everyone, here is some more information on what would happen if the district were to hold a special election instead of appointing a new board member (there's still time to force this to happen in Area 4) - http://patch.com/A-xHNp
Ken L. October 25, 2012 at 10:42 PM
I have read all; of the BS. Now, I think I will vote for Rambo. Thank you all for helping me make up my mind.
EGBill October 25, 2012 at 11:11 PM
Rambo said at the Fallbrook forum he declined benefits and wants to end free health benefits for the board. Ly is supported by Bill Lugg, the guy who gets lifetime benefits paid for by us. Pretty easy decision there.

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