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School board shoo-in is an education veteran

August 20, 2006|By Michael Miller

Walt Davenport, a former Costa Mesa planning commissioner and longtime member of the city's Chamber of Commerce, is set to join the Newport-Mesa Unified School District's board of trustees at the end of this year.

The husband of a retired Newport-Mesa district teacher, Davenport will replace current trustee Tom Egan, who has served on the board since 2002 and is not seeking reelection. Davenport was the only candidate who filed for Egan's office and emerged as the only contender when the filing deadline passed on Wednesday.

"It's a very good feeling," he said. "I ended up doing it the easy way."

Davenport, 70, has been a Costa Mesa resident for nearly three decades and put both of his children through local schools. He is president and founder of SoPhTec, a water conditioner manufacturer on 17th Street. In addition, he served on the Costa Mesa planning commission for two decades and reads grants for the Newport-Mesa Schools Foundation.

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This December, the Newport-Mesa district board will have at least two new members, as current trustee Linda Sneen has also decided she won't seek reelection. Two candidates are vying for her spot in the November election, while incumbents Serene Stokes and Judy Franco both face challengers.

With his experience in city government and education, Davenport drew raves from colleagues when the news spread of his advancement to the board.

"I think he's going to do excellent," school board President David Brooks said. "He'll catch on quickly. He and his wife have a good background in the educational process, and I don't think his learning curve will be as steep as some people's."

Egan, who lives across the street from Davenport, said the new trustee's business savvy will help him oversee the district.

"The board should have the smarts to be able to ask good questions and test for quality answers, and Walt should be able to cover the waterfront with his background," Egan said.

Last year, Davenport was a member of the residents' committee that recommended Measure F, the largest bond measure in Newport-Mesa history, to the school board. During the 1980s, his son and daughter attended Estancia High School. Davenport's wife, Sally, retired in June from California Elementary School.

He is set to be officially appointed to the school board in December.

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