Democratic Club of Claremont Endorsed Candidates


Claremont School Board

Special Election: July 25, 2023

Three candidates are vying for the Claremont School Board, District 4 seat in the July 25 special election:  Alex McDonald, Aaron Peterson, and Joshua Rogers. We believe that Alex McDonald is the best qualified and have given him our endorsement.


McDonald will bring to the board qualifications as a medical doctor and family physician -- a perspective that is particularly valuable to school boards at this time. Having just emerged (we hope) from a global pandemic that cost the lives of over one hundred thousand Californians, and having navigated complex public health directives over the last several years, we can all profit from the steady, science- and evidence-based decision making and professionalism that characterize McDonald's career.


We also understand that we are in the midst of a growing youth mental health crisis that the pandemic exacerbated, and for this reason too we believe that McDonald’s professional experience positions him to help lead our district through the inevitable challenges we continue to face.

In addition to these qualifications, we believe that McDonald possesses the appropriate understanding, sensitivity, and humility for the job. An excerpt from his questionnaire illustrates the point:

We cannot pretend that poverty doesn’t exist and cause hunger, which reduces a child’s ability to focus and learn. We cannot pretend that patterns of income inequality have not created communities that might seem or actually be physically unsafe, which reduces a child’s ability to feel safe enough to build trust at school and learn. We cannot pretend that some of us don’t experience fear of violence because of our age, race, faith, gender, or some other factor, which reduces our sense of belonging and further impedes our opportunities to learn and thrive. Of course, no one arm of society can solve all of our various social ailments … [but] if we take seriously the responsibility of leading our schools, we owe it to ourselves and our students to acknowledge the challenges they and their families face and to continuously seek opportunities to do our part to do better by them in the classrooms, the hallways, the schoolyards and beyond.


In view of these factors, we believe that McDonald is best positioned to maintain and improve the quality of our schools.


We are less confident about his opponents and have concerns about them both. Although Aaron Peterson lost to 19-year-incumbent board member Steven Llanusa in 2022 by just nine points (a respectable showing), we believe that this has less to do with his strength as a candidate than with concerns about the incumbent.  We are particularly struck by a letter Peterson wrote to the Claremont Courier dated February 26, 2021.  In it, he appears dismissive toward a group of unnamed positions that he labels “woke.” While we recognize that constructive criticism of any of these positions (named and clearly formulated) is fair game in political debate, Peterson’s letter seems more interested in ridicule than engagement. We are concerned about him carrying over this attitude to the board. It contrasts with the seriousness of purpose that we find in McDonald.

A similar point applies to Joshua Rogers. When Rogers interviewed for the appointed board position, he appeared more interested in relitigating mask mandates than in any educational issue. It would have been different had he emphasized that his concern was with (say) how long students learned at home rather than in school during the height of the pandemic. We recognize that people disagreed passionately and in good faith about how to determine the precise point at which public health had sufficiently improved to allow safe in-person learning to resume. But masking is different, and the board will be better served by McDonald, whose training and inclination lead him to follow the science, than by Rogers, whose lack of training leads him by inclination to question it. (It was Rogers whose petition forced the $273,000 special election.)   

Screening Process

Our process for screening candidates involves four steps. We require candidates to complete a questionnaire, then interview them. Next, the executive board recommends a candidate for endorsement, and finally, the general membership votes to accept or reject the recommendation (or substitute another candidate). All endorsement meetings are open to our members.  


Only registered Democrats are eligible for our endorsement. Of the three candidates, only McDonald is a registered Democrat, and only McDonald was interviewed. However, even in elections where only one candidate is a registered Democrat, endorsements are never automatic. We have in the past declined to endorse candidates who were the only registered Democrat in the race. Steven Llanusa in 2022 was one of them. As a result, in the 2022 Claremont School Board, District 4 race, DCC endorsed no one – neither Llanusa nor Peterson. 

McDonald’s case is far different. McDonald positively earned our endorsement. Both our executive board and our general membership voted unanimously to endorse him.

Voting, Mobilizing, Spreading the Word

We work tirelessly to promote our endorsed candidates. In Alex McDonald's race, we did everything from writing postcards, to delivering door hangers, to making phone calls, to texting, to canvassing -- and continue to do things right up until election day. And, of course, we made a political donation from our Political Action Fund.

Democratic Club of Claremont Endorsed Candidates