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Election season begins for local races

• Turlock Irrigation District: Division 1, Division 4

• Chatom Union: Area 3 and Area 4
• Denair Unified: 3 open seats
• Keyes Union: Area 1, Area 4, Area 5 (short term)
• Turlock Unified: Area 1, Area 3, Area 5, Area 7

• Denair Community Services District: 3 seats
• Keyes Community Services District: 2 seats

• Denair Municipal Advisory Council: 2 full term, 2 short term
• Keyes Municipal Advisory Council: 3 full term, 1 short term



There are quite a number of seats up for election in local school districts, community service districts and municipal advisory councils this November — along with two Turlock Irrigation District Board of Director positions.

Despite recent challenges facing the Turlock Irrigation District due to the ongoing drought, dwindling revenues and ever-increasing state and federal water mandates — or because of them — both incumbent Directors representing Division I, Michael Frantz, and Division 4, Robert Santos, are seeking reelection.

Frantz, co-owner of Frantz Wholesale Nursery in Hickman, has been a member of the Board of Directors since 2009. He is active on several statewide industry boards and serves locally as a director for the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau, and on the Stanislaus Workforce Alliance Board. Frantz serves as TID’s representative for the Don Pedro Recreation Agency Board of Control, TID’s Pension Investment Committee and Power Supply Risk Committee.

Santos, president of Valley Critter Care, Inc., which operates two veterinary hospitals in Turlock, has been a member of the Board of Directors since 2007. He was a part-time instructor at Modesto Junior College Agriculture Department and is a member and past president of the Chatom School Board. Santos also helped to establish the Turlock Historical Society and is past president of the Turlock Downtown Association, Northern San Joaquin Veterinary Association and the Turlock Exchange Club. He is a representative on the Drinking Water Committee and serves as the District representative to the San Joaquin River Group Authority.

As of Monday, there is one challenger to the Division 1 seat, Tracy Sunde.

Sunde, a retired chemistry/physics/mathematics teacher at Hilmar High School, said he is running to give the urban customers of TID a larger voice in the decision-making of the Board.

"TID controls a lot of what happens with the water in this area," said Sunde. "I feel like the urban customers of the TID district need to be represented more...and need to be in on the water decisions too, because they are affected."

Sunde also hopes to increase the District's use of solar energy.

"When I first moved here, TID was a really progressive utility...I don't feel like they've taken a lead in the solar aspect. They could be generating a lot more solar for their own energy needs," he said.

For more information on the TID Director area boundaries, visit

There are four trustee area seats up for election in the Turlock Unified School District, three in Keyes Union and two in Chatom Union, along with three open seat in Denair Unified.

This will be the second by-trustee area election for Turlock Unified School District, and the first election for Areas 1, 3, 5 and 7.

As of 4 p.m. Monday, only one individual had filed a declaration of candidacy in Turlock: appointed incumbent Barney Gordon for Area 1.

Gordon said he is seeking election because he believes public education is a "root-cause solution" to many of society's issues and he wants to dedicate himself to supporting the outstanding teachers, staff and administrators in the Turlock Unified School District.

His goals if elected?

"In the near term, I am dedicated to addressing the inconsistent, and too low benefits package offered to our various groups of employees.  In the long term I am focused on ensuring we have the best leaders throughout the district that will provide the support and resources that are necessary to our staff and teachers who are on the front-lines of educating our children," said Gordon.

Detailed maps of the TUSD Trustee Areas is available at

As of Monday, two of the three Denair Unified School District incumbents — John Plett and Kathi Dunham-Filson — had filed candidacy papers and no one else. No candidates had filed paperwork with the clerk's office for the seats open in Chatom or Keyes.

There are three seats on the Denair Community Services District and two on the Keyes Community Services District, with no candidates reported as of Monday.

There are two full term and two short term seats open on the Denair Municipal Advisory Council, with no candidates reported.

In Keyes, three incumbents have filed candidacy papers for the full term seats open on the MAC: Davie Landers Jr., William Alexander and Jeff Reed.

Newcomer Mario Amaya has filed candidacy papers to run for the one short term seat on the Keyes MAC.

Amaya said he decided to run because during his daily morning runs he has talked to many Keyes residents who voiced concern that there isn't a Hispanic or bilingual representative on the advisory council.

"I've been living in this town for the past 36 years, and I thought this was the best way to help my town," said the former warehouse manager who spends his time volunteering at his church, with the Police Activities League and youth sports programs.

Individuals interested in running for an open seat in the Nov. 3 election are urged to personally verify all timelines and election requirements. Information and required forms are available from the Office of the County Clerk, Stanislaus County, Registration and Elections Department, 1021 “I” Street in Modesto.

The deadline for interested parties to file declarations of candidacy is Aug. 7. Candidates are advised to file the candidacy form in person at the time the declaration form is obtained.

If an incumbent does not file a declaration of candidacy by Aug. 7, an extension of the nomination period will run from Aug. 8-12.