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-Public/child safety

            First and foremost, I am a proud father of two children that are more important to me than life itself. Being a father always comes first...always! The most honorable thing I can think of doing with my life is taking care of our families. I was sent to war by the US Army. They prepared me for everything, except seeing children on the battlefield. I saw first-hand how people suffer when governments breakdown. I will do whatever it takes to prevent any of that from coming here.

            In 2016 my family had a terrible tragedy affecting one of my children. This tragedy affected me more than words can describe. Shortly after this I started my retirement from the US Army and became a man on a mission to protect my kids and all of their friends/classmates. I ran for IUSD Board with safety being a focal point of the campaign. I was nearly elected with very little money spent! Despite the negative election result, it was a win because I was able to make some real progress. I subsequently served as a Vice President of a PTA for my daughter’s middle school and have built lasting relationships with IUSD Board Members, City Council Members, PTA’s and other community leaders.

            In Irvine, we are fortunate to have a great police department with outstanding internal leadership. IPD knows this and they continually maintain and improve their best practices. In the years I have lived here, I have not heard a single complaint against the Irvine Police Department (IPD). As a former Military Police Captain, I am more critical than the average person and yet I continue to be impressed by IPD.  I think one of the big strengths of IPD’s success is the Irvine resident’s willingness to work with them and be their eyes/ears for the department.

            Having served as a Law Enforcement Officer I know all too well police cannot be everywhere all the time.  Sometimes things fall through the cracks with horrible consequences. An appalling issue we have in Irvine/OC is human trafficking...a sanitized way of saying sex slavery. I am aware the county has a task force for this but obviously this wasn’t enough when we had a sophisticated international human trafficking ring operating in Irvine for some time before they were busted in 2017. Law Enforcement described it as the “Uber” of Human Trafficking that preyed on underage and vulnerable adult victims.  As individuals we need to come together to support our local Law Enforcement. City leadership need to make this a priority and look to our local Law Enforcement (or any other resource i.e. county/state/federal for help) to train us all on how to spot and report  suspected human trafficking. I am confident we have the resources to do this. City leadership needs to make this a priority rather than bicker about personal egos or long standing political vendettas. Imagine being 10 -14 years old (or maybe younger) and being forced to do horrible unspeakable things as a part of someone else’s business model! Lets say maybe you survive this abuse, you grow up, maybe later you learn someone could have prevented this but they had more important things to do… they were too busy bickering about who did what to each other in the last election or who gave a measly donation to a political candidate. Tragically this is not hypothetical. It happened in Irvine and we all missed it! Some things are uncomfortable to talk about… I get it! It is hard for me as a father to talk about this as well. Ignoring this issue will not make it go away! This is a community leadership issue and we as leaders need to lead on this.

            Moving forward we can all agree we need more talking and less fighting. Once in Irvine City Council I will continue my mission and reputation of bringing people together to maintain and improve relationships throughout the city.

- Better Traffic management

            Maintaining and improving traffic conditions is a non-partisan priority. Everyone has to deal with it. It took years for traffic to get this bad and it may take years to fix it.

            The City has established a traffic management facility called the Irvine Traffic Research and Control Center (ITRAC) to monitor, manage,  and research traffic circulation throughout the City. The ITRAC Center allows the City's traffic engineers to monitor on-line traffic conditions from City Hall and make appropriate adjustments to the signal timing. Using advanced detection technologies, such as CCTV cameras and video image detection systems, the City's traffic engineers can obtain real-time traffic flow, counts, speed and delays. The City of Irvine currently has CCTV cameras installed at various locations citywide.

            Even with this robust traffic management system, Irvine appointed a new Transportation Commission to fight traffic and review development plans. Once elected I will continue to support this commission to find solutions to improve our traffic conditions.

- Fiscal responsibility/lower taxes

            I am a fiscal conservative that will always err on the side of caution and not spend another person’s money frivolously. I will work to find out how we can use outside resources that are free to the city and reduce the burden on our taxpayers.

            Too often we hear some idiotic politician with delusions of grandeur wanting to spend non-stop until they become the president. They will promise anything and everything to get elected and we see our taxes go up again and again with empty promises. Sometimes we have to accept we cannot tax and spend nonstop!

-Open and honest communication with the public

            I am available for anyone to contact me when it is convenient for the public.  I do numerous LIVE streams on social media in long forum that you can log into and ask me direct questions LIVE. I have posted my personal cell phone/email address for you to contact me and we can have a conversation. I take your questions LIVE and give you the best answers possible. If I do not know something, I will go find out.

-Smart growth/development

            Growth/development has been a big issue in Irvine. Some people have the opinion we grew too fast and some not. Many have voiced their opinion that if we grow, we should do so slow and smart. Some people want to stop all developments.

            A major concern many parents have, is school overcrowding caused by uncontrolled growth. If we do build anything we need to ensure schools and proper infrastructures are in place first to prevent overcrowding and excess traffic.

            On this divisive topic, the right thing to do is simply listen and do what the people tell me to do. If you tell me to vote or NOT to vote on something I will vote that way. At the end of the day I am elected to represent the people plain and simple.

- Positive relationships with IUSD/TUSD for school safety/reduce overcrowding

            As I stated above we need more talking and less fighting. Which is why I work hard to build and maintain/improve relationships across the spectrum of Irvine’s leadership regardless of political party.

            I have interviewed many local community leaders on my social media live streams. My door continues to be open to any community leader, parent, resident, candidate or elected politician who wants to discuss issues live for people to ask us questions and get real unscripted answers.

            School Safety is a top priority in my own family and pretty much everyone I have met. School safety/security is best described as a complex strategy of mathematically based risk reduction calculations to generate quality multi-layered plans. Then it is another long discussion on how to implement and maintain these plans.  I have personally reviewed the IUSD safety/security plans page by page. I have met with IUSD Board leadership, IUSD Risk Managers, parents, teachers and Irvine City Council members to discuss and analyze issues. It will never be something we just fix and forget. This is something we have to continually maintain and improve just like I did when I did risk management, safety/security and Anti-Terrorism planning in the US Army in my professional life.

            School overcrowding is an issue that adversely affected my own young son when we tried to place him into kindergarten in 2015. Due to school overcrowding, there were years long waiting list to get into the school that was right next to our home. This issue is caused by poor planning and growing too fast without having the schools or proper infrastructure in place before residences are built.

            I will not vote for any developments unless schools and proper infrastructure are in place first to prevent overcrowding and excess traffic. We need to have schools waiting on kids, not kids waiting on schools!

- Recruiting and retaining quality police/city employees

            Recruiting and retaining quality police/city employees is done many ways depending on the style of leaders in any given organization. What is important to individual employee varies. Often people leave a job because they feel unappreciated, others for the salary and benefits or a better management opportunity. Whatever the reason for an individual employee, recruiting and retaining the best people is an ongoing process that should be monitored closely by leadership to ensure its success. This is one of those issues that can be a non-issue when done right and can be a major issue if neglected.

 - Avoid centralization of power/keep decision making local

            I have worked in government since I was 17 years old. No matter where you go there always seems to be someone who is micromanaging or trying to take over everything for one reason or another...usually at the detriment of the people they claim to serve. This is usually done by consolidating power in the hands of the few or a single person.

            My message is very simple and easy. Keep decision making at the local level and keep the power in the hands of the people. The people of Irvine made this city great and the people of Irvine will continue to make this city what it is for generations to come.

 

-Mark Newgent, 2018

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The issues listed below are archived from the 2016 Irvine School Board election. Many of these issues are still relevant and may give you some insight in the recent past of what we have been trying to do to help Irvine.

1. Issue - Safety and Security

Firs off I support our Police and Military.  I ask no matter who you support in this election to be on the school board, please support our Police, Military veterans, and all of the hard working people in the Irvine Unified School District.

Like many people do my family and I moved to Irvine for to the “good” schools. Unfortunately upon arrival I realized we have serious security issues that put my own children at risk.  I am and will continue to work tirelessly to fix those issues.

I have spoke many times on the record since October 2015 publicly to the IUSD School Board and have not received a direct response from them until 13 September 2016 when I spoke about a budget question but still have not been able to have a normal conversation with them.

I spoke to my son's principal before the Paris attacks in September concerned about the issue. I spoke publicly to the board BEFORE the San Bernadino Attacks advising them the security situation is taking a turn for the worse but was ignored.  I spoke to them again after the Brussels attack and again after the attacks in Istanbul, Orlando, Nice France, etc. I think most of us have lost count at this point.

I have met with the principal's of my child's school, the assistant IUSD superintendent and the IUSD Risk Manager to discuss the security issues at length.  I have attended an IUSD quarterly safety meeting chaired by the IUSD Risk Management Director and was briefed by the safety managers from major sites around the district and listened to their concerns and had the chance to speak to them. I was impressed at how much passion they had for their work. However, even with the best people to do the job if they don't have the proper resources or tools they can't get the job done. 

Mayor Steve Choi himself told me that some politicians feel that public opinion is aesthetics are more important than safety and security... I have talked to countless parents in the IUSD. I have not heard anyone tell me they are NOT concerned about the string of terror attacks over the past year or the safety of our kids.

I feel confident that the site safety managers, teachers, principals and staff at the district are competent and up to the task of addressing security issues when we have the correct plan.  However, they need strong elected leaders to support them and give them the resources they need to do their jobs.

I have written and executed many safety/security plans including three years of overseas missions, rewriting the master plan for all of the Army Reserve units in the Pacific. I wrote and managed major Anti-terrorism exercises to include the specific scenarios encompassing all of the Pacific Army Reserve units and outside civilian agencies (HPD, Fed Fire, EOD, DA Police, etc.) and adjacent US Army support units.

Redesigning/writing/updating the district plan is simple. It is a three phase plan that is designed specifically for the district who can disseminate it (I will not go into detail on this website). Each phase is complex, however the application of it will be very simple and focus on ease of use rather than creating needless regulations. The plan also utilizes existing government resources and my volunteer service to eliminate unnecessary costs.

2. Honest and open communication

Over the past year I have seen that there is a big issue with communication in our district. When we don't communicate people get frustrated and lose confidence in their elected leaders.

I have literally talked to thousands of people in Irvine and I see the frustration and lack of confidence people have.  At this point I have literally knocked on thousands of doors to greet voters and give them a chance to question me personally.  I have been greeted with overwhelming positive responses, being physically hugged and given unsolicited campaign donations because of my willingness to have open and honest conversations with people.  This has touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes.  I will work my hardest to live up to the expectations of the Irvine people and be your champion that will never quit.

3. School Overcrowding.

With the explosion of growth in the past few years the IUSD has experienced overcrowding in schools in some cases up to 40 students in one classroom. My own family has been displaced as well.  We live in Woodbury but we were displaced to another school and now we have to drive about 4-5 miles one way to his elementary school.  This takes me about 40-45 minutes round trip but yet Woodbury elementary school is within walking distance of my current residence.  I have been told several times there is a long waiting list.  We are on the waiting list yet again for first grade but have been told it is unlikely we will get in this year. This puts a huge strain on many facets of life.  I have talked to many families and this story is all too common. Upon my election it will be top priority to study this and reorganize staff recourses to accommodate the public’s needs.

Update (March 2017): The Irvine Company plans to build 2,000 new apartments at the I5 and Sand Canyon (Near Woodbury). After learning of this and being told my son is on the waiting list again for the third year to get into the school across the street, I spoke to city council and encouraged them to coordinate with the IUSD Board to ensure that we have enough classroom space to handle the influx of students. As a result of this engagement I learned a lot about why there is a breakdown of positive relationships between the two.

***Note (I want to be clear on this) I am not against the Irvine Company or any private company! I actually live in an Irvine Company apartment pending us finding a home to purchase in IUSD.*** 

It is no secret to some but I only recently learned that there has been bad blood between Irvine City Council and IUSD Board over the claim that the City may have violated the sovereignty of IUSD. Learning this, I was frustrated as it seems my kids, their classmates and their families are suffering over someone's bruised ego... 

I believe that if IUSD Board can put the past away and work with the Irvine City Council to find real solutions I am positive we will improve our planning capability.  

4. Avoid Centralization of power, keep decision making at the local level. 

I have worked in government since I was 17 and it always seem someone wants to control everything and consolidate power for one reason or another.  I don’t understand why all the micromanagement… Micromanagement never works out and just breed distrust in organizations.  I keep in line with the founding superintendent’s vision of keeping IUSD decentralized to encourage creativity and innovation throughout the district.

5. Special needs families. 

I feel very strongly about helping our special needs families. Though I do not have special needs kids. Many of my close friends and family have special needs kids and I see the hardship endured by the parents.  They are suffering in silence and need an advocate.

I have spoken publicly to the IUSD Board and asked them to help a special needs parent (Christine) that has two kids, one of which is a classmate of my son.  Christine’s younger son is an autistic child will be going to school soon on the same campus.  Christine’s autistic child is physically very healthy and can run very fast.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t listen and if not stopped he will run right in front of traffic.  This is a big problem as one side of the school is a big field the kids play on that is directly adjacent to a busy street with fast moving traffic.  I proposed to the district we create some type of barrier.  Christine and I estimate a small 3-foot high row of thick hedges on one side of the field would be a sufficient safety barrier for him and other kids and many other parents seem to agree. 

As I am campaigning and learning about IUSD, it seems we have a lot of the problems that have huge consequences if not fixed but the solutions are so small and common sense. I am scratching my head as why are we not fixing these problems???

6. School Transportation.

At the recent candidate orientation at the IUSD I asked about school buses and why don’t we have them. I was told that only students that are displaced get that and also the parent must pay for it. This situation is unfortunate and is a resource the will have to acquire and improve upon in the future.  I will work as hard as I can to get us resources from the state to address this and many other issues that are depending on resources given to us from the state.

Update (Feb 2017): After being frustrated on this issue with IUSD, I went and spoke publicly to Irvine City Council about the lack of school buses. The Mayor and a City Council Member went to IUSD Board and pushed the issue the best they could. After this I guess I couldn't' be ignored. I was able to finally (after two years of lobbying the IUSD Board) to get a one on one meeting with a member of the IUSD Board. In which he staunchly opposed school buses. I disagreed with him for many reason one being the lack of school buses puts undue stress on young families and mothers that are attempting to reenter the workplace. 

7. Leadership

Leadership-The IUSD needs leaders, Leaders who will provide purpose, motivation and direction while working to accomplish the mission of the IUSD.  I have decades of leadership experience in high stress environments making common send decisions for complex organizations with difficult missions. I will bring that experience to the IUSD ensuring a bright future for all. 

I am always here to listen and help. Together we can find solutions that work for our community.  My personal contact information is below. I take great pride in returning messages from the community as quickly as possible, feel free to contact me if you have any questions. 

-Mark Newgent, 2016

949-529-0497
Mark@Mark4Irvine.com



 


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