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Eight candidates vie for four open TUSD Trustee seats

The candidates for the Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees in the upcoming November election are official. In total, there will be four Board seats up for grabs, with incumbents running for reelection at each seat.


TUSD area map

Area 2

In Area 2, Lori Carlson will be looking to keep her seat against challenger Shenique Texeira Boronda.


“I’m running for re-election to the TUSD Board of Trustees because I want to continue to champion additional learning opportunities to overcome the losses following the COVID-19 pandemic, increase social-emotional wellness by maximizing the number of providers available to students across age groups and levels of need and focus on increasing access and opportunity at all levels in TUSD,” Carlson said. “I have a proven track record of collaborating with fellow Board members—on a board of seven, one person’s opinion accomplishes little without consensus-building and mutual respect.”


Carlson also referred to her time as Board President as to why voters should support her in November.


“I have been elected by my peers to serve as Board President for the past four years, an office which requires regular meetings with the Superintendent and other Board members to set agendas, create direction and focus for District business and build trusting partnerships. I would be honored to have the opportunity to continue the good work as a Trustee in this next season, as TUSD engages fully in in-person learning and meaningful traditions for students and families,” she said.


Texeira Boronda, a TUSD alumna and mother of current TUSD students, shared that support and trust between the schools and the community are essential to the success of students.


“I will help create a positive culture of learning for all students, support our teachers and staff and serving in trust for the entire community,” she said.


Area 3


Over in Area 3, Kennth D. Howenstine will run as an incumbent against Paola Maldonado Padilla. Howenstine was appointed the Board position in 2020.


“I’m running to continue supporting families and students in our community. As a parent of students in our District, I have felt that I am able to offer my unique perspective,” Howenstine said. “I've supported our CTE programs and our special education students and will continue to make those my priority.”


Meanwhile, Maldonado Padilla is a TUSD alumna and is the mother of current TUSD students. She could not be immediately reached for comment.


Area 4


For Area 4, incumbent Mary Jackson is running against Jeff C. Nichols.


“I'm running for reelection to the TUSD board for 13,500 reasons: our students. I want to continue working in our community to improve student achievement for every TUSD student, at every level,” Jackson said.  “I believe we are rebuilding post pandemic, offering summer school classes in every grade at every school site the past two summer, and hiring extra counselors. I will continue to carefully review our finances and spend our tax dollars wisely. I want to restore the Turlock Education Foundation, where we can raise extra money to strengthen our music, art and athletic programs.”


Jackson added that she would like to continue the work she has already accomplished on the Board.


“When I was walking precincts four years ago, I told voters how our kids need to master the basics: reading, writing and math. We still have some students struggling, and I want to make sure teachers and staff have the necessary tools for improvements,” Jackson said.


Nichols has also had experience in education, as he has served in special education services at the non-profit Creative Alternatives, Inc. He is also a member of the California National Guard. He could not be reached for comment.


Area 6


In Area 6, Jeffrey F. Cortinas will be running as an incumbent against Rupinder Singh Jagpal.


Cortinas explained that the handling of COVID-19 over the past year by fellow Board members is why he feels compelled to run for reelection.


“For the first time I can recall, parents this year have a choice with candidates that represent parents’ choice and allowing parents to decide what is best for their kids. The other incumbents kept schools closed and were strict about following ever changing laws that made no sense,” he said. “For example, the board voted to mask all kids while the guidelines only required those in grades 2 to 12. As a result, kindergarten and first graders were required to wear masks to attend class in person.”


Cortinas would also like to see a greater law enforcement presence to keep schools safe.


“It was brought up at a City Council meeting of providing additional officers to our schools, and the district declined. I will support parents’ choice and help make our schools safe. Our kids deserve the best learning environment to thrive and succeed.”


Cortinas is looking to keep his seat against Jagpal, a Manteca Unified School District math teacher.


“Since I started teaching 17 years ago, I have been advocating for the needs of our students,” Jagpal said. “My uncompromising view that all students can learn and achieve at high levels, given a positive learning atmosphere that welcomes exploration and fosters student confidence. It is my goal to continue advocating for children in our community. All children have a right to an education and our schools are here to assist them.”


Jagpal explained some of his goals if he were to be elected to the Board.


“As a school board member, I would like to open and strengthen the dialogue between parents, faculty, students and the community at large, which is vital for a board to be responsive. All groups must be consulted and all facts must be considered before the board makes a decision,” he said. “Members of the Board are trustees of the communities they represent. It is imperative that this Trustee be available to and willing to work with community members, including District staff. Everyone who appears before the board has the right to be heard, not just to speak. Public understanding, support and participation are essential for school board members.”


Election Day takes place on Nov.8. A map of the TUSD Trustee area boundaries can be found at: