Breaking down Tulare Co.’s school board races

The Sun’s look at the contenders vying for Tulare County school board seats.

Visalia Unified School District

Four trustees on the Visalia Unified School District Board of Education are facing challengers in the November election. 

A number of the trustees have overseen a district that weathered the COVID-19 pandemic and tumultuous senior leadership as the district is on its third superintendent in the last four years. 

To make matters more interesting, Todd Oto – the former superintendent who was ousted by the board in 2019 after just three years on the job – is running to represent Area 4. 

Oto’s ouster-resignation came as Visalia Unified faced criticism surrounding low test scores and behavioral issues. 

In his run for school board, Oto has campaigned as a candidate who can bring immediate experience to a board that only has one member who has served prior to 2018. 

Area 4 is currently represented by Catalina Blair, who herself was appointed to the position in November 2021 after John Crabtree retired. 

The other two candidates in the race are Crystal Reynolds, a business owner and advocate, and Jesus Morales-Grace, a small business owner. 

In Area 1, Walta Gamoian is running her first reelection campaign against Jesse Perez, who did not submit a ballot designation. 

Juan Guerrero, by far the longest serving board member spanning back to 2001 with a break from 2009 to 2013, is once again running for Area 2. 

In an interview with Gannett, Guerrero said his goal if reelected will be to create a five-year strategic plan to focus on learning loss and to raise test scores. 

His lone challenger is Paul Belt, who is listed as a college adjunct. 

Appointed Trustee Randy Villegas is running for the remainder of the term against Jonelle Murphy, a district parent. 

The incumbents were all part of a board that adopted three core values: all students should be at grade level, parent and community engagement are important for student success, and all students will be in a safe and welcoming learning environment. 

Alpaugh Unified School District

Vote for three: 

  • James Atwell, incumbent
  • Denise Vasquez
  • Kristy Mitchell
  • Debra Gibbs, incumbent

Cutler-Orosi Unified School District

Area 2, vote for two: 

  • Juan Alonzo
  • Pete Castillo, retired school driver
  • Mary Helen Espino, incumbent
  • Julio Zapien, field service engineer
  • Javier Quevedo
  • Rebecca Jimenez, incumbent

Area 3

  • Chris Mendonca, bus driver
  • Sandra Williams, incumbent

Farmersville Unified School District

Vote for three: 

  • Johnny Ray Alvarez, incumbent
  • Jorge Vazquez, incumbent
  • Ruben Macareno, city councilman
  • Cynthia Godwin
  • Sabrina Gomez

Lindsay Unified School District

Area 1

  • Anthony Vahnn Blue, incumbent
  • Brenda Gonzalez, teacher

Area 5

  • Dennis Doane, educator/business owner
  • Alex Ray Flores, incumbent

Dinuba Unified School District

Area 2

  • Jason Sanchez, national guardsman
  • Ron Froese, farmer/college instructor

Area 3

  • Sharon Davidian
  • Beverly Keel-Worrell, incumbent

Porterville Unified School District

Area 3

  • Cheryl McCrillis
  • Pete Lara, incumbent

Area 5

  • Rae Dean Strawn
  • Felipe Martinez, incumbent

Exeter Unified School District

Area 2

  • Amanda Kay Reser Renteria, appointed incumbent
  • Julie Watson, retired personnel analyst

Delano Joint Union High School District

Vote for three: 

  • Art Armendariz, incumbent
  • Lionel Reyna, incumbent
  • Eloise Carrillo, incumbent
  • Ann McBride, farmer/computer engineer
  • Valerie Gorospe, community engagement director

Burton Elementary School District

Area 1

  • Dawn Crater
  • Eduardo Hernandez, incumbent

Area 4

  • Shelbie Akin
  • Daniel Figueroa, incumbent

Ducor Union Elementary School District

Vote for three: 

  • Gabina Becerra Gonzalez, incumbent
  • Maria Vasquez, incumbent
  • Jesse Navarro, retired educator
  • Mary McGill

Earlimart Elementary School District

Vote for three: 

  • Yolanda Duran, incumbent
  • Kelly Andreas
  • Gloria Borunda, incumbent
  • Brian Franks
  • Mike Fernandez, incumbent

Pixley Union Elementary School District

Area 5

  • Emily Robledo
  • Randell Terrel
  • September McPhetridge

Pleasant View Elementary School District

Vote for three: 

  • Thomas Barcellos, incumbent
  • Aziez Shaif Hassan
  • Alexander Garcia, incumbent
  • Rusty Gobel, incumbent

Richgrove Elementary School

Vote for three: 

  • Miguel Romero
  • Martha Martinez, incumbent
  • Irene Flores, family service advocate
  • Marisela Lopez, incumbent
  • Alexandra Guerrero, incumbent

Sequoia Union Elementary School District

Vote for three: 

  • Lane Anderson, incumbent
  • Cody Bogan, assistant fire chief
  • Jonathan Cotta
  • Melissa Myers

Terra Bella Union Elementary School District

Vote for three: 

  • Steven Cole, horse farm owner
  • Courtney Pace
  • Sherry Shannon, retired educator
  • Suzanne Lujan, incumbent
  • Vicki Jaggers, incumbent
  • Anthony Giannetto, incumbent

Three Rivers Union Elementary School District

Vote for three: 

  • Sean Boerke
  • Ryan Sager
  • Peter Mestaz, incumbent
  • Jamie London

Tipton Elementary School District

Vote for three: 

  • Greg Rice, incumbent
  • John Cardoza, incumbent
  • Blanca Cruz
  • Iva Sousa, incumbent

Tulare City Elementary School District

Area 5

  • Conie Diaz, parent
  • William Adkins, appointed incumbent

Woodlake Unified School District

Area B

  • Donna Fraser, incumbent
  • Ryan Wallace, firefighters

Area D

  • Rolana Rochin
  • Rocio Medina, physician
  • Florencio Guerra, social worker
  • Al George, retired educator
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