Benicia Teachers Association Endorses Ariana Martinez for Area 5 School Board Race

Ariana Martinez has more experience working with a wide range of children than any other candidate

Press Release, March 7, 2023

Ariana Martinez, LCSW, candidate for Benicia Unified School District Board of Trustees, Area 5

The Benicia Teachers Association has recently endorsed Ariana Martinez for the special election to be held on April 11, 2023, for the Area 5 Special School Board Race.

Ms. Martinez is a licensed Clinical Social Worker with experience in the Continuing Services Unit with Contra Costa County Children and Family Services.

Ms. Martinez has also been endorsed by California State Senator Bill Dodd; Benicia Mayor Steve Young; Benicia Vice-Mayor Terry Scott; Benicia City Council Member Kari Birdseye; Solano County Board of Supervisor Monica Brown; Benicia Unified School Board President Sheri Zada; Benicia Unified School Board Members Mark Maselli and Dr. Gethsemane Moss; Former Benicia Unified School Board Member Andre Stewart and the Napa/Solano Central Labor Council.

As a Social Worker, Ms. Martinez has helped mentor at-risk youth and their families, strengthening her understanding of the importance of equity in education. She has established successful working relationships with stakeholders including school staff, service providers, parents and community members to assess needs and support sustainable change in the lives of children and families. Ms. Martinez weathered the dark days of the pandemic and all of the new problems it brought, helping children and parents get through the worst of the storm. A passion for helping families still drives her.

Ms. Martinez received her Master’s Degree from the University of Southern California School of Social Work with clinical and personal experience serving diverse populations as well as professional training in human resources and health care as part of the Department of Veterans Affairs Northern California Health Care System’s Student Temporary Employment Program. She received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of California – Irvine with statistical, research, and leadership training in the areas of social sciences, organizational development, experimental psychology, and education. Ms. Martinez is a graduate of Benicia High and understands the many issues students and parents face today.

No one ran to represent Area 5 last year, resulting in a vacancy that the Board was required to fill. Any interested, eligible candidate could apply for the post. Four candidates applied, including Ms. Martinez. As a result, in November, the Governing Board interviewed the four applicants in open session for the position. After comparing the needs of the district with the experience and backgrounds of each of the candidates, the Board chose by a majority vote to provisionally appoint Ms. Martinez.

Along with her many other qualifications, the Board took into consideration Ms. Martinez’s dedication to a fair and effective school system, her knowledge of special education issues, her time seeking better outcomes for at-risk youths, and her unmatched experience working with a wide range of children when compared with any other candidate.

Once Ms. Martinez was chosen, the three unsuccessful applicants aired various concerns to the Board, including the concern that a conflict of interest may limit Ms. Martinez’s ability to fulfil her duties as Board member. The concerns were thoroughly reviewed in view of relevant policy regulations and with the assistance of legal counsel. The review decisively determined that Ms. Martinez was qualified for the post and that she would not be unreasonably restricted in performance of her duties by any conflict of interest.

In response to the Board’s decision to appoint Ms. Martinez, the unsuccessful applicants chose to gather at least 62 signatures and submit them to the County to rescind the appointment. The special election must be paid for by Benicia Unified School District, taking roughly $60,000 to $80,000 from school budgets that must also support students, teachers, school staff, and school facilities.

Three candidates are now on the April 11 ballot: Ms. Amy Hirsh, Dr. Ali Mansouri, and Ms. Ariana Martinez. Only residents of Area 5 may vote in this special election (see map below).

BUSD Area Map (click to enlarge)
*BUSD Area 5 includes: Mathew Turner School, Lake Herman, Water’s End areas.  Click on map to enlarge. Area 5 is in purple.

More information on this matter can be found by searching online for “Important Message From BUSD Governing Board re: Trustee Area 5 Appointment and Petition“.