Dr. Melanie Burkholder

Dr. Melanie Burkholder, the challenger, says she wants to bring a new perspective to the school board. She was a Secret Service agent before becoming a therapist in Carlsbad. She also has two sons who attend Magnolia Elementary, where she is a member of the PTA.

Dr. Burkholder became involved in local education as a part of the fight to ban the use of Roundup on school fields. In addition to that cause, she has also been involved with sun protection education and the push to replace lead pipes at Magnolia. These efforts helped motivate her to run for the school board.

“Those are three environmental pieces that I think are really important that inspired me,” Dr. Burkholder said. “Kids need advocates and they need people to help them be protected.”

Kids need advocates and they need people to help them be protected.”

— Dr. Melanie Burkholder

Like Williams, Dr. Burkholder believes safety is a top priority. In her campaign, she emphasizes her background in security.

“I’m not a ‘my way or the highway’ type of person but I have a unique set of skills that can be brought to the table,” Dr. Burkholder said. “I think it’s a motivating thing for the people of Carlsbad to understand that I do have their safety at heart.”

Along with safety, Dr. Burkholder has made budgeting a large part of her platform. She identifies herself as a fiscal conservative and says she wants to pay close attention to the finances of the district.

“I think it is very important when you are asking stakeholders for $265 million that you spend our money wisely,” Dr. Burkholder said. “I’m a homeowner and a taxpayer as well so I definitely want my dollars to be spent for good things… For example when you think about technological advances, what can we use that money for that will help security but not be obsolete in the next five to ten years.”

As a parent, Dr. Burkholder also has goals in mind that reflect her experiences with the district. One example is broadcasting school board meetings. She feels that the current process is inaccessible to most parents because the meetings are on a school night and the only other way to access the information is through Soundcloud.

“I want to focus on transparency and accountability and getting our information out there because parents want to know what’s going on,” Dr. Burkholder said. “We want the information, we want to be involved but we can’t just drop everything and be at a board meeting.”

Another issue Dr. Burkholder wants to focus on is special education. As a therapist, she feels a personal connection to that subject and wants to work on improving it.

“I thought ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we had advocate for those people who could help navigate the waters for parents who have high functioning kids?’ If you couple that with parents of low functioning special needs individuals it’s hard for them too. It’s hard for them to get the things that they need… It hurts me to see them struggling. I’m a mental health therapist by trade, that’s what I do.”

Overall, Dr. Burkholder has emphasized her background in her campaign. She believes her experience in security, mental health and local activism qualify her for this office.

“My personal background, training, and experiences are different than anyone elses on the board,” Burkholder said. “I don’t want to change the colors of the schools or anything like that I  just think that changes in the schools are reflective of election cycles. I have a very unique background that is completely different from anyone elses on the board and I think that is a good thing to have.”