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Local school board races remain competitive

Following updated election results from Stanislaus County on Friday night, several candidates seeking seats on local school boards inched closer to election.

Incumbent Turlock Unified School District Trustees Miranda Chalabi (Area 1) and Frank Lima (Area 5) each faced two challengers in the election. Yosemite Community College District Area 3 saw Milton Richards, retired Stanislaus State Athletic Director and husband to Turlock Mayor Amy Bublak, and Modesto City Schools teacher Bryan Rogers compete to replace Trustee Abe Rojas, who did not seek reelection.

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 8 p.m. Friday, Lima was holding onto just under a two-point lead over former Turlock Nursery School Board member Dan Benedict with 37.62% of the vote, or 828 votes, compared to Benedict’s 35.98%, or 792 votes. Following closely behind was former Trustee Grady Welch, who received 26.4% of the vote with 581. 

Benedict was unable to be reached for comment on Friday, but Lima commended him and said that the race was far from over. 

“I first want to thank all of my supporters and everyone who came out to vote. It is great to see so many people interested in serving our community and especially our youth. I’m very impressed with Mr. Benedict and hope he continues to remain active in our schools,” Lima said. “The vote count is still so close, Mr. Benedict may be the next Trustee for Area 5 once we have the final vote count.”

Del Puerto High School and Open Valley School administrator Jose Sanchez on Friday said he was feeling excited about the preliminary results, which showed him with nearly a five-point lead over Chalabi. Friday’s updated results showed Sanchez had collected 1,514 votes so far, or 44.56% of the vote, while Chalabi received 1,336 votes, or 39.32%. Turlock Black Lives Matter co-founder Jaimee Ellison was in third place as of Tuesday night with a total of 548 votes, or 16.13% of the vote.

With victory on the horizon, Sanchez expressed his excitement on Friday evening.

“I would like to appreciate the Turlock community for their support, including my family, colleagues and friends. I’m honored and humbled to be in the lead. Although not final, I would like to appreciate my opponents for their interest in wanting to make a positive difference in our school system,” Sanchez said. “These are difficult times and I look forward to working with our key stakeholders in supporting our youth to have a great educational experience. I’m very confident, but things can still change as the votes continue to be counted.”

YCCD candidate Richards said he was waiting for the final results before celebrating. On Friday, he held less than a two-point lead over Rogers in Stanislaus County with 12,029 votes compared to his opponents’ 11,579. In Merced County, both candidates were tied with 69 votes apiece. Despite having dropped out of the race and endorsing Rogers, Sharokina Shams remained on the ballot and received just over 5,000 votes in Stanislaus County.

“I’m cautiously optimistic and grateful to the citizens of Area 3 for showing confidence in me,” Richards said.

Like Richards, Rogers is eager to see the final vote count and watch the democratic process play out.

“I’m proud of my campaign. While the county currently has me in second place, there’s still votes to be counted,” he said. “I know we’re all eager to have some resolution to races up and down the ballot. I'd like to let the Registrar and her team continue to do their work.”

The Area 4 seat up for election on the Keyes Union School District Board of Trustees saw incumbent Harinder Grewal challenged by Mike Bernal. As of Friday, Grewal was set to lose his seat as he trailed Bernal by nearly 20 points, or 60 votes. 

On Friday, there were 40,000 ballots left to count in Stanislaus County. To keep up with the election results as more ballots are counted, visit