As the candidate deadline for local elections came and went on Friday, several area races were set while others saw their filing periods extended.
One more candidate, law enforcement officer Grady L. Welch, stepped forward in the Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees Area 5 race to challenge incumbent Frank Lima and Parent Teacher Association secretary Daniel Benedict. Welch was not able to be reached for comment by press time. Incumbent Miranda Chalabi will face off against Turlock Black Lives Matter Movement co-founder Jaimee Ellison and school administrator Jose Sanchez for Area 1, while incumbent Anthony Silva of Area 7 and Area 3 incumbent Ken Malech will both run unopposed.
Also running unopposed for their respective seats are Turlock Irrigation District Directors Michael Frantz (Division 1) and Robert Santos (Division 4).
Frantz is currently the Vice President of the Board of Directors and was elected in 2009. His 600-acre family farm, Frantz Wholesale Nursery, LLC, employs more than 200 people locally and Frantz has been an active participant on local, state and national boards during his time at TID.
“TID is foundational to our region’s economic success. We are navigating through a lengthy relicensing process with Don Pedro, and it’s extremely important that experienced people stay involved to ensure a favorable outcome for our community,” Frantz said.
Santos, Board of Directors President, was first elected in 2007. He has spent nearly his entire life in Turlock, he said, having been raised on a dairy farm just west of town before going off to college to become a veterinarian. Now, he is the hospital director and veterinarian at Community Veterinary Clinic and Monte Vista Small Animal Hospital in Turlock.
Santos is running again because he truly enjoys being a Board member at TID, he said, and that the group of directors is one with different personalities and opinions, but one intent — to provide reliable and affordable power as well as ensure farmers’ water rights.
He hopes to continue the work he’s already done to promote transparency at TID, he said, which he has achieved by promoting public access to workshops, encouraging more evening meetings to increase attendance and creating a streamlined process for public records requests.
“I will be a fierce protector of our farmers’ irrigation water by opposing San Francisco’s continued effort to purchase our surface water and by opposing the State’s water grab sending our water to the south. Our water needs to be kept in our area at any cost,” Santos said. “I will also continue to develop our groundwater sustainability program through recharge projects and support of a surface water treatment plant.”
Keyes Union School District also has two seats up for grabs on its Board of Trustees. Area 1 incumbent Jeffrey Greener will run unopposed, and incumbent Harinder Grewal is being challenged by former Keyes Community Services District Director Mike Bernal.
Grewal, a former TUSD Trustee, has served on boards including KCSD, Stanislaus County Fair and Keyes Municipal Advisory Council. He has also run for State Assembly District 12 twice and considers himself a “qualified leader with an agenda to keep KUSD on the right track.”
He decided to run for reelection to address a myriad of issues, he added, including: maintaining budget accountability, exploring additional funding for school programs through grants and partnerships, establishing better communication with parents and the community and supporting more communication and the sharing of ideas with other school boards, to name a few. His top priority is keeping students safe during the coronavirus pandemic, he added.
“I want to strategize a plan to open the schools, keep a close eye on the budget and work closely with other Board members and the school superintendent during these trying times,” Grewal said.
Bernal is running for the school board seat after losing his seat on the KCSD following last year’s Consolidated District Election. He currently serves as the “Jesus and Me” Children’s ministry Director at Keyes Haven of Hope church, and said serving on the school board would allow him to continue his work with children.
“I wanted to make a difference somewhere different then the water district. I deal with a lot of kids daily, so this would help me be more hands-on and be involved in important decisions in their lives,” Bernal said.
Bernal added that he would like to see the schools in Keyes reopen despite Stanislaus County’s label as a coronavirus hotspot. Due to the closures, he also hopes to refocus on students’ mental health if elected.
“We’re living in some crazy, chaotic times,” he said. “There are some unforeseeable consequences, like the emotional thing of being isolated, that makes me think we need to bring kids back and take steps forward at this time.”
The three open seats on Denair Unified School District’s Board of Trustees will go to incumbents Carmen Wilson, Ray Prock and Kathi Dunham-Filson, who were the only three candidates who applied to run. The same goes for the KMAC, which will see incumbents William Alexander and Jeff Reed and General Manager Ernie Garza all run unopposed.
The filing periods for the Denair Community Services District and Denair Municipal Advisory Council have been extended. Only two candidates have applied to run for the DCSD, Joel Comfort and Kenneth Edwards, but three are needed. Kimberly Stokes is the sole candidate for the DMAC, but there are two seats open.
For more information on candidates or local races, visit www.stanvote.com.