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School board races tight as early results released
Election 2020 art

The two races for seats on Turlock Unified School District’s Board of Trustees may have been too close too call late Tuesday night, but some candidates are cautiously optimistic about the results.

Incumbent Trustees Miranda Chalabi (Area 1) and Frank Lima (Area 5) each faced two challengers in the election. While 19-year incumbent Lima is no stranger to elections, this was Chalabi’s first time on the ballot after being appointed to the Board in June of last year.

As of 10 p.m. Tuesday, Lima was holding onto a slim lead over former Turlock Nursery School Board member Dan Benedict with 37.9% of the vote, or 614 votes, compared to Benedict’s 36.91%, or 598 votes. Following closely behind was former Trustee Grady Welch, who received 25.19% of the vote with 408.

With only 23 votes separating Lima and Benedict, the incumbent was wary of commenting one way or another on the race.

“The results could change by tomorrow morning,” Lima said. “It has been an honor serving the school district and our community, and I would be honored to receive the confidence of the voters from my trustee area to serve another four years.”

Del Puerto High School and Open Valley School administrator Jose Sanchez said he was feeling excited about the preliminary results, which showed him with nearly a five-point lead over Chalabi. Sanchez had collected 1,027 votes so far, or 43.48% of the vote, while Chalabi received 920 votes, or 38.95%. Turlock Black Lives Matter co-founder Jaimee Ellison was in third place as of Tuesday night with a total of 415 votes, or 17.57% of the vote.

“I’m just overwhelmed with excitement and joy, but also with worry of what the results are going to look like in the morning,” Sanchez said. “I’m ready to get to work and make a decision on opening schools and supporting families. It’s a challenging time, so I want to get to work and start making decisions that will benefit our children.”

Chalabi is hoping results to come are in her favor.

“The campaign process has been very enlightening. I had the support of my family and friends throughout it all,” she said. “This was an especially difficult campaign due to COVID, but I’m proud of the campaign we ran; it was ethical and respectful. I look forward to seeing the official results posted.”

Ellison said she hopes her first foray into politics inspires others.

“I honestly didn’t know what to expect as someone who is a first-time candidate. I decided to run so people who looked like me would also be inspired to run for public office,” she said. “Change also happens behind the scenes as well and this is what I hope more people see. I’m very grateful for everyone who voted for me and I can’t thank them enough.”


To keep up with the election results as more ballots are counted, visit