Atascadero School Board Candidates 2022 Q&A Part I • Atascadero News

Get to know your nine candidates campaigning for your vote in November

By the editorial board of Atascadero News

ATACADERO — The Atascadero Unified School District Board (AUSD) has four open seats, all four-year terms. This year, nine candidates are vying for the seats. The seats up for re-election are currently held by George Shoemaker, Tami Gunther, Ray Buban and Donn Clickard.

The candidates officially vying for the AUSD open seats are Tami Gunther, Rebekah Koznek, Tracy Ellis-Weit, Vy Pierce, George Shoemaker, Dan L. Hathaway, Denise McGrew Kane, Chris Collins and Scott Staton.

Each candidate had the option of answering the same list of questions in 100 words or less in addition to their 200-word introduction. The full contestant statement is provided below, except for Chris Collins and Scott Staton, who did not participate.

Candidates are listed alphabetically by last name.

Declarations of the candidates

Tracy Ellis-Weit

retired teacher

I have lived in Atascadero for 30 years and raised our family of three children who are all graduates of the Atascadero Unified School District.

As parents, my husband and I were coaches, volunteers and organizers for each of our children’s extracurricular activities, both sports and university.

As a retired Atascadero Unified School District teacher with over 30 years of classroom experience, I will bring my elementary, middle, and high school teaching experience to the decision-making process so I can be an advocate for all. students, families, and schools.

My decision to run for AUSD School Board Trustee because I want to use my classroom experience to improve the health, well-being, and academic success of all students in our community. As Trustee, I will seek the knowledge and expertise of our dedicated teachers and support staff whose services are essential to providing the best educational opportunities AUSD can provide. I will respect, value and encourage the involvement of parents, students and the community to ensure academic success, career readiness and good citizens.

Tami Gunther


Accountant / Personal Assistant

[email protected]

I am a permanent resident of SLO County and a 28 year old resident of the Atascadero School District. My two children attended AUSD schools from kindergarten through high school. I spent many years actively involved with the PTA, school site councils and numerous district-level committees before being elected to the school board in 2006.

In addition to my local board, I am also one of 30 trustees of the California School Boards Association and the board of the Tri-County Education Coalition.

I am a strong advocate for career arts and technology (CTE) education and the use of advisory boards whenever possible to gather feedback from our stakeholders.

School boards should focus on student education, not political agendas. Our schools must be safe places, both physically and emotionally, for all students and staff, and courtesy and respect must be exemplary at all times.

Rebecca Koznek


As a parent of a child with special needs, I think we need stronger representation on the school board. Surprisingly, 14% of the AUSD student population has an IEP (individualized educational program). An IEP is a program developed to ensure that a child with a disability receives specialized instruction and related services.

I served for four years as the AUSD Parent Representative at the San Luis Obispo County CAC SELPA (Community Advisory Committee); one year as Vice President, and President for the past two years.

As my daughter with special needs attended elementary school in Santa Rosa, we noticed that the school needed a playground suitable for these children. I approached the school board with my concerns and was able to get a crawl tube and independent activity boards. Others were added to other schools in the district. The same year, AUSD awarded me the “Parent Advocate of the Year” award.

As an elected member of your school board, I will devote myself to my oath of office by upholding the Constitution of our country and our state. I will represent the forgotten voices of all parents. I promise to be your spokesperson and your child’s advocate.

Denise McGrew Kane

Parent/Small Business Owner

I am a mother of three children who attend AUSD schools. I was born and raised here in North San Luis Obispo County. I have been an entrepreneur and small business owner for over 20 years.

Many aspects of running a business are tied to being a member of a board of directors. I have a deep understanding of financial matters as I have always handled all accounting/bookkeeping, budgeting, payroll etc. of my business. .

I have managed over 10-50 employees/independent contractors, with a focus on creating a positive workplace, team collaboration, setting goals, increasing production, managing time, etc.

I have developed several training programs. I am a successful negotiator, always looking both ways, and have been able to deliver win/win results in addition to being able to think outside the box to find solutions. I believe that my skills acquired over the past 20 years in business will be an asset to our district, in addition to having the perspective of a parent with children in the district.


Stay-at-home mom and community volunteer

My husband and I have three children enrolled in the Atascadero Unified School District in grades 12, 7, and 4.

As a stay-at-home mom, I have spent the past 12 years volunteering at their schools and non-profit organizations such as the Atascadero Public Schools Committee (CAPS) and have helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for our students and our schools. I am currently President of the PTO at Atascadero Middle School, Treasurer of the Atascadero High School Band Boosters, and Treasurer of the San Gabriel PTA.

Also, I sit on several district committees and volunteer once a week in my son’s class, so I’m very up to date with what’s going on in the schools and the district. My experience, skills, and demonstrated ability to lead and work with many different people toward a common goal would help our school district meet the challenges we currently face.

George Shoemaker


Retired teacher and farmer

[email protected]

I have 15 years of teaching experience and over 22 years of coaching experience in five different sports, working with youth sports and up to the community college level.

Prior to serving the last five years on the school board, I served three years on the AUSD Bond Oversite Committee. Prior to that, I was a parent’s assistant for six years at Monterey Road School. My two youngest children went through the AUSD system.

My wife is a seventh grade teacher at Atascadero Middle School. I have a master’s degree in public policy from Cal Poly. During my time on the board, I have advocated for regular assessment of students and targeted interventions to help them in areas where they need support. I have also been an advocate for a financially strong district and for the AUSD to be a district that supports and respects all of our staff.

Candidates Chris Collins and Scott Staton did not participate.

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