Written by Taylor Fourier
San Diegans are entering 2021 with a lot of newly elected female officials!
Unfortunately, with a large number of the newly elected women being Republican, the San Diego Union-Tribune failed to mention many of them in their article “Phenomenal San Diego Women in Elected Office.” Just as being elected into office is not limited to one gender, being an influential woman in politics is not limited to the Democratic Party. This article provides a look at some of the phenomenal Republican women elected to serve in San Diego County.
Escondido City Councilwoman Tina Inscoe grew up living in various states and countries as a result of her father’s service in the United States Air Force. Eventually, she ended up in San Diego County’s Escondido. With over 25 years of professional experience in the nonprofit sector, Inscoe has taken great interest in being engaged within her community. From 1992-2011 she was the Director of Annual Giving, Director of Individual/Major Giving & Special Events, and Director of Community Affairs. Additionally. she was a former board member and president of the North County Philanthropy Council, served on the city’s Charitable Foundation, was an Executive Member of the Escondido Chamber of Commerce, served on the board of the Escondido Education Compact, and is a board member of the Palomar Health Foundation. Inscoe is a firm believer in servant leadership and refers to the residents she serves as “neighbors.”
Marie Waldron was elected to the California State Assembly in 2012 and is currently serving as State Assembly Republican Leader. Starting in 1998, she served on the Escondido city council for 14 years. She has been a strong supporter of patient access to health care, controlling opioid/substance use, and mental health treatment. Waldron is a member of the Mental Health Caucus, the Prevention Support Team of Mental Health Systems-North Inland Community Prevention Program, and has served on the Assembly Health Committee, the Select Committee on Health Care Delivery & Universal Coverage, and the Select Committee on Infectious Diseases in High-Risk Communities. Furthermore, Waldron has been named “Legislator of the Year” by both the CA Life Sciences Association and the California Chronic Care Coalition. Within the county, she is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary, the founding member of the San Diego chapter of California Women’s Leadership Association, and owns and runs her business. She is currently advocating on behalf of California’s small businesses in Congress and hopes to foster a common-sense bill that will help small-business owners survive.
Longtime resident and army veteran Paulette Donnellon has been enhancing and reimagining learning within San Diego County through a 21st-century outlook. She was first elected in 2016 to the San Diego County Board of Education representing District 4. Previously she has been president of the Escondido Union School District Board, president of the Escondido Education Foundation, and a Classroom of the Future Foundation board member. Donnellon uses her specialty of innovation in educational solutions to, in her words, “ensure that [students] receive an education fit for the future leaders of tomorrow.”
Carlsbad Unified School District Area 2 Trustee Elisa Williamson has lived and raised her family in the city for 33 years. During that time, she has been active in her community while supporting the school district. Since joining the Board of Trustees in 2000, she spearheaded a Governance Handbook, District Vision Statement, and the Continuous Improvement process. Focusing on student learning and helping Carlsbad become a world-class district, she guarantees all students get the best possible education in a safe, up-to-date environment. She co-chaired Prop B, a successful proposition that provided funds to rebuild Jefferson Elementary School, upgrade electrical and plumbing in older schools, and allow Carlsbad High School to build two-story classrooms and a new gym. Additionally, under her and her fellow trustees, the district has seen a notable improvement in graduates meeting CSU and UC admission requirements (52% to 80%) and an increase in completion of Honors, AP, and community college classes. Through five subsequent election cycles, voters and the board have chosen to allow her to continue serving on the CUSD Board of Trustees. Williamson is a proud leader in Carlsbad and considers her schools the “community’s treasure.”
Coronado Unified School District Trustee Stacy Keszei is a resident, parent, businesswoman, professor, and Marine Corps family member of Coronado. Though just elected into office this year, her professional experience allows her to understand the educational system through a strategic lens to cherish the city’s patriotic community.
As a wife, mother, former deputy sheriff, teacher, college professor, and Poway Unified School board member, Cindy Systma serves with dedication, passion, transparency, and brings a lot of experience to the table. Her education background includes earning a Bachelor’s degree in Criminology, a Master’s in Education, and a Ph.D. in Human Services Criminal Justice with her thesis focused on No Child Left Behind. As for her professional background, she was Correctional Deputy for the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, a teacher for general and special education, a resource teacher, developed a special education department for an alternative high school, and a professor at National University. Sytsma has several publications and has participated in educational conferences all over the globe. As a board member, she will focus on awareness, inclusion, and equality for all children to grow in an academic environment.
Dawn Perfect, a Ramona Unified School District board member, has lived in Ramona for her entire adult life and raised her four children there. She dedicates herself to giving back to the city she calls home. Perfect attended San Diego State University as well as Palomar College and previously worked as Executive Director for Ramona Parks and Recreation. Through her years of service, she has focused on community infrastructure and youth opportunities.
Christi Knight has been putting students first from a board member’s perspective and a parent’s perspective. She served the district as Deputy Chief of Staff, worked on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, served as the Director of the Health and Human Services Agency, and serves as the EUHSD Board Member representative for Escondido Education COMPACT. Knight always puts youth first. During her copious years of service, Knight achieved grant funding to accommodate more on-campus food distribution opportunities for elementary and high schools by partnering with the San Diego Food Bank. She continues to advocate for investment in preparing the youth if they ever encounter law enforcement or reach a point of crisis and believes in community-based mentorship to help children attain their full potential.