Race for Manteca Unified School Board Sees 8 Candidates for 3 Positions

August 15, 2020 at 2:19 pm

Updated August 23, 2020 at 12:12 pm

A total of eight candidates are seeking three seats on Manteca Unified School District’s Board of Education in November. The open positions are in Areas 1, 3, and 7.

Manteca Unified's Board of Education has three open seats up for election in November.

Manteca Unified's Board of Education has three open seats up for election in November.

Image courtesy of Manteca Unified School District

Area 1 is responsible for Weston Ranch High School, Great Valley School, and Komure and Knodt Elementary Schools. The incumbent and current vice president of the board, Eric Duncan, is seeking to retain the seat. He has been Area 1’s trustee since 2016, and became an Equity Warrior with the California School Boards Association during his four-year term. Mr. Duncan’s primary issues include student and staff safety, expanding after school programs, improving the district’s academic scores, and ensuring equitable access to programs for students.

Opposing him is Lilia Lara Barbosa, an insurance agent who has been endorsed by the Manteca Educators Association. She has also volunteered for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Mexican Consulate, and the Red Cross. She wrote in her campaign statement, “I will fight for common-sense health precautions and policies… I will fight to keep our teachers and counselors employed and expand these positions.”

Area 3 covers Calla Alternative High School and Woodward, Cowell, and New Haven Elementary Schools. Karen Pearsall, the current trustee, is one of the two candidates running. She was appointed to the position in April 2019 to replace trustee Michael Seeyle. Prior to her appointment, she worked as a teaching aide and participated in Joshua Cowell Elementary School’s Community Club parent group.

Melanie Greene, a parent and educator, is challenging Ms. Pearsall. Ms. Greene is currently the Director of Continuous Improvement and Support at the San Joaquin County Office of Education, and has served as the Director of Improvement and Accountability for the California Department of Education. She has been endorsed by the Manteca Educators Association. In an interview with 209 Politics, Ms. Greene highlighted her work at the Department of Education in building a new accountability system. She also discussed incorporating student, parent, and staff opinions into the decisions of the board on budgets and instruction through online questionnaires or in-person conversations with appropriate health precautions.

Area 7, which encompasses beTECH Academies and Lathrop and Mossdale Elementary Schools, has the most crowded field. Current board president Bob Wallace, who first won the seat unopposed in 2016, is running for reelection.

Former Manteca city councilmember and local business owner Mike Morowit is among Wallace’s three challengers. He has also served on the Manteca Children’s Foundation Board. “As we navigate through these uncharted times, I want to bring my proven leadership skills and passion for education and safety to ensure our children’s futures remain bright.”, his campaign statement reads.

Also running are parent Christina Campoy-Laughlin and University of the Pacific pharmacy professor Marisella Guerrero. Ms. Guerrero has been endorsed by the Manteca Educators Association. She highlighted the lack of representation on the board in an interview with 209 Politics.

“Teachers in our district have been ignored and it’s time that the board listened and trusted its teachers… I would also like to see improvement in cultural competence within the district, improvement in mental health services for students, and I would like to put more resources into programs that support the arts and culture.”, she said.

This article will be updated as candidates respond to requests for comment.