Republican and former Chargers football player Burt Grossman is running against Sweetwater trustee Pearl Quiñones for a seat on the school board.
Quiñones, a Democrat who is currently serving her third term on the board, is running for re-election in November. There are no term limits for Sweetwater trustees and each term is four years.
Last week, Quiñones was denied the friendly incumbent endorsement from the San Diego County Democratic Party, opening the way for another Democrat to seek the endorsement.
First elected in 2000, Quiñones and three other current and former Sweetwater officials are facing bribery and corruption charges from the San Diego County District Attorney’s office. She and her colleagues have all pleaded not guilty.
Grossman, who played as a defensive end for the Chargers from 1989 to 1993, said he decided to run at a June 20, 2011 meeting that stretched into the wee hours of the next day. The marathon seven-hour meeting concluded with the termination of Superintendent Jesus Gandara, who had been besieged with ethical complaints for years.
“I don’t know if I was in shock at the whole atmosphere. The meeting was unreal, just surreal,” Grossman said. “It was entertaining, but only up to the point that my kids aren’t in that district yet.”
The 45-year-old Otay Ranch resident said the meeting was so rowdy and unruly that he knew he had to get involved.
“I probably stayed until about midnight. I couldn’t believe they were taking so long. That was the first moment I decided,” Grossman said.
Quiñones did not respond to requests for comments for this article. The 59-year-old educator from the San Ysidro School District was presented with a congressional award from Congressman Bob Filner for her advocacy for South Bay families, according to the district’s website.
“Ms. Quiñones is dedicated to improving education and strongly advocates high student achievement. She served as vice president of the California School Employees Association and was appointed to the California Department of Education Dropout Prevention Board,” her district website says.
She was born near Socorro, Texas in a small, rural community, but has lived in National City for more than 20 years.
Grossman has a fourth and a second grader at Arroyo Vista, a Chula Vista charter school. His wife teaches school at Olympian High School. He’s worked at both Hoover High School and Chula Vista High School.
Currently, he does nonprofit work at Camp Barrett, a youth correction facility in Alpine and he’s involved with Able Disabled City Heights, an advocacy program in City Heights.
Dubbed “Big Mouth” on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1990, Grossman wasted no time living up to his reputation and spoke his mind about his opponent and others on the board.
“She looks like she’s up there to take some glamour shots. She’s got perfect hair, perfect makeup. She’s a great advocate for herself,” he said. “You hear them talking about decisions and it’s all ‘me, me, me; How’s this going to affect me?’ No one ever talks about the kids. I’ve never even seen them come near the kids except for a photo shoot.”
Grossman described himself as non-partisan and someone who votes across party lines.
Asked if the Sweetwater mess can be cleaned-up, he said:
“I don’t know if it can be fixed, but the only shot it has is to change the people on the board.”