Introducing the Candidates for Ripon, Yosemite College, Lammersville, Galt School Boards
August 21, 2020 at 8:40 pm
The Boards of Education for Yosemite Community College, Ripon Unified, Lammersville Unified, and Galt Joint Unified Districts all have contested races in November. Some board members for Banta, Escalon, Linden, Ripon Areas 4 and 5, Oakdale, Jefferson, New Jerusalem, New Hope, Oakview, and Valley Home Districts also will see their terms expire this year, but the elections for their seats are uncontested (although the candidate is not necessarily the incumbent).
Area 5 of the Yosemite Community College District, which is responsible for Modesto Junior College and Columbia College, has an open seat in November. Area 5 is predominantly composed of Stanislaus County, but includes Ripon as well. The incumbent since 2016, Darin Gharat, is seeking reelection. He has also served in law enforcement as a deputy sheriff and police chief.
Gharat highlighted the past accomplishments of the board in his campaign statement, including expansion of dual enrollment, improvement of transparency of the district’s finances, and implementation of a Guided Pathways project to enable students to complete college more quickly.
His opponent is Rosalio Rubio, a physician and secretary of the Stanislaus Medical Society Board of Directors.
Ripon Unified has one contested seat in Area 2. Current board clerk Vince Hobbs is running for the position after being appointed in October 2019. He is also the project manager of the Ripon High School Stadium Revitalization. Before that, Hobbs served on the Ripon Unified Facilities Master Planning Committee.
Opposing him is Michelle Monroe, a legal analyst and former Special Education Instructional Assistant at the San Joaquin County Office of Education. She has also worked for the San Joaquin County courthouse and Mary Graham Children’s Shelter, and currently has children in Ripon Unified.
Monroe told 209 Politics that she would like to hire more teachers and aids for special needs students, expand Ripon Unified’s English Sign Language program, and offer resources to “diverse families that come needing extra support.” In Ripon’s elementary schools, she has proposed to focus on retaining principals and ensure that the schools are run more similarly, with equal district support.
Lammersville Joint Unified School District has three open seats. Out of the incumbents, only board president David Pombo and Anne Bonilla have filed to run. Mathew Balzarini, who has served on the board since 2010, will not be running.
Pombo has served on the board since the district was unified back in 2010. He is running primarily on the strength of his past accomplishments, including the opening of five new schools and the tripling of the district’s student and staff populations.
“What I would like to achieve by my continued service to LUSD is to insure all of these things continue and indeed are even improved upon in the future.”, he said.
Stephanie Olsen, a discrimination claims investigation for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, is among the challengers. She is currently chair of the Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee on Measure L and is on the Mountain House High School Safety Committee. She has also worked in curriculum development for a language training center.
“My legal training and work as an EEO [Equal Employment Opportunity] investigator have prepared me to understand legal documents and contracts and be prepared to ask the right questions and focus on the relevant information necessary to make the best and most informed decisions as a board member.”, she wrote in an email interview with 209 Politics.
The final candidate is production manager Ephelius Cornelious. Cornelious said he decided to run for the board after seeing his sons deal with online classes during the pandemic. “[I] felt it was time for me to stop complaining about the school system and actually get out in the community and do something about it.”, he told 209 Politics.
Cornelious serves as director of the Signature Homes Homeowners Association and is currently a doctoral student studying strategic leadership. He has said he would like to focus on the poverty of students in the district, stricter bullying policies, increasing teacher pay, technology, before and after-school programs, parent involvement, and student transportation, among other things.
Both Galt Joint Union High School District and Galt Joint Union Elementary School District have two open seats. In the former, incumbents Daniel Denier and Terry Parker-Owning are seeking to retain their positions. They are being challenged by former board member Patrick Maple, who served from 2014 to 2018.
In the latter district, there are three candidates: parent Traci Skinner, university compliance officer and lawyer Jared Brian Gaynor, and registered nurse Casey Raboy.
This article will be updated as candidates respond to requests for comment.