The Rancho Santa Fe School District Board appointed Jon Yonemitsu as the new trustee at a special meeting on Oct. 23. Yonemitsu, a litigation attorney and partner at Gordon & Rees, is a parent of three children at R. Roger Rowe School. He was sworn in by Superintendent David Jaffe and got to work immediately for the board’s closed session meeting that morning.
The board interviewed five “impressive” candidates for the seat on Oct. 16, but Yonemitsu stood out as a top candidate for all of the board members. Board Vice President Tyler Seltzer made the nomination, which was seconded by Trustee Scott Kahn — the vote was unanimous.
“Jon was my number one choice of the candidates,” said Board President Todd Frank. “All were good candidates and I hope everyone stays involved and engaged and runs again.”
Two seats, including Frank’s and Yonemitsu’s, will be up for election next fall.
Trustee Sarah Neal said she was especially impressed with Yonemitsu’s comments about developing a strong school culture.
In his interview, Yonemitsu spoke about the great experience he had at Punahou School in Honolulu (a kindergarten through 12th grade school that lists former President Barack Obama as an alumnus) and how students were encouraged to get outside of their bubble and have a significant impact on society. Yonemitsu said it was so meaningful for students to have an opportunity to look beyond their own school community and learn how they can make a difference — he said the mindset of being a global citizen and giving back was something he would like to see as part of the mission and vision at Rowe.
Yonemitsu has a degree in finance and economics from Oregon State University and graduated from California Western School of Law. He is still actively involved as an alumni at Punahou and serves on the board of directors of the Oregon State Alumni Association.
As a board member, Yonemitsu said his priorities would be facilities, ensuring that students have all of the necessary technology tools and district budgeting. As a litigator, Yonemitsu said he feels confident in his ability to be “a steward of the public,” to be fair and balanced, and to listen to community feedback. He said he has no agenda and his decision-making process as a board member would focus on facts and being as objective as possible.