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Dozens Want a Role in Governing Local Schools



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Politics 101
David Taub
With the filing deadline three days away, 28 candidates (including 8 incumbents) have qualified for local school board races being decided in November’s general election.
Among the contests drawing interest is a rare open seat on the Clovis Unified School District board. Area 3 incumbent Jim Van Volkinburg, a dentist and school board member since 1993, has decided not to run for re-election.

Pageant Winner Seeks Seat

Two candidates have filed for the race to take his place. Tiffany Stoker Madsen lists herself as a small businesswoman and mother. She is also a former Miss California and Miss America runner-up in 1996. Financial documents show her raising $13,700 thus far.
Albert Zuniga, listed as a small business owner, is also running.
Friday (Aug. 10) marks the deadline for candidates to file to run for office in November (there is a five-day extension of the incumbent does not run). Here are the local school board candidates who have filed thus far:

Candidate Race
Ronald Nishinaka* State Center Community College, District 4
Annalisa Perea State Center Community College, District 5
Daren Miller State Center Community College, District 5
Teri Orantes State Center Community College, District 5
Bret Rush Fresno County Board of Education, Area 1
Richard Martinez Fresno County Board of Education, Area 1
Kimberly Tapscott-Munson Fresno County Board of Education, Area 1
Michele Lee Arvance Fresno County Board of Education, Area 1
Marcy Masumoto Fresno County Board of Education, Area 4
Jason Paul Central Unified, Area 1
Ruben Coronado* Central Unified, Area 2
Yesenia Carrillo Central Unified, Area 2
Richard Atkins* Central Unified, Area 4
Rama Dawar* Central Unified, Area 7
Sandra Bengal Budd* Clovis Unified, Area 1
Susan Hatmaker Clovis Unified, Area 1
Tiffany Stoker Madsen Clovis Unified, Area 3
Albert Zuniga Clovis Unified, Area 3
Betsy Sandoval* Clovis Unified, Area 7
Robert Fuentes Fresno Unified, Area 1
Keshia Thomas Fresno Unified, Area 1
Valerie Davis* Fresno Unified, Area 3
Mark Ratchford Fresno Unified, Area 3
Christopher De La Cerda* Fresno Unified, Area 4
Veva Islas Fresno Unified, Area 4
Nasreen Johnson Fresno Unified, Area 7
Terri Edwards Fresno Unified, Area 7
Amanda Karabian Fresno Unified, Area 7


Former Council Candidates Switch Gears

School board races have also attracted three former candidates who were unsuccessful in their primary campaigns for seats on the Fresno City Council.
Kimberly Tapscott-Munson is seeking an open seat on the Fresno County school board. Area 1 incumbent Ismael Herrera is not running for re-election.
Veva Islas, who finished third in the District 7 city council race, is running against incumbent Christopher De La Cerda for the Fresno Unified Area 4 (McLane High School area) seat. Islas finds herself $22,611 in debt from her prior run for office.
Daren Miller, whose District 3 city council race was so close it needed a recount, is running for State Center Community College in District 5.
One other note about Fresno Unified’s board contests: Fresno City Councilman Clint Olivier, who flirted with the idea of running for school board, tells GV Wire he is officially not a candidate.
In Central Unified, two candidates have lined up in opposition to sitting board members. Geologist Jason Paul plans to run against board president Cesar Granda. Although he hasn’t filed yet, Granda says he plans to submit his paperwork this week.
Yesenia Carillo, an attorney, has filed to run against incumbent Ruben Coronado. Another attorney from her law firm, Hatmaker Law Group, is running in Clovis Unified.
Susan Hatmaker is taking on incumbent Sandra Bengal Budd.

Candidate Financial Updates

The latest round of financial information for candidates shows who has raised what, and how much cash is left in the bank. Here are the numbers through June 30 for city of Fresno candidates:

Candidate Race Money Raised Cash on Hand (debt)
Lee Brand Fresno Mayor (2020) $393,342 $394,338 ($0)
Fresno for Parks Parks sales tax $204,299 $15,660 ($47,178)
Esmeralda Soria Fresno City Council, District 1 $147,777 $125,706 ($3,907)
Miguel Arias Fresno City Council, District 3 $60,390 $17,773 ($11,607)
Tate Hill Fresno City Council, District 3 $42,672 $17,468 ($10,450)
Luis Chavez Fresno City Council, District 5 $108,633 $72,118 ($380)
Paula Yang Fresno City Council, District 5 $29,337 $4,356 ($13,985)
Nelson Esparza Fresno City Council, District 7 $146,579 $13,783 ($6,531)
Brian Whelan Fresno City Council, District 7 $296,541 $137,773 ($11,932)
Veva Islas Fresno Unified, Area 4
Fresno City Council, District 7
$105,531 $300 ($22,611)

Brand Fills His War Chest

Fresno Mayor Lee Brand took advantage of a change in city policy which allowed him to start fundraising in an off-year (he is not up for re-election until 2020). Nearly 200 individuals and businesses contributed $393,342 to Brand, giving him a giant head start over any potential competitor who may emerge for mayor.
Fresno for Parks raised six-figures as well, with 70% coming from the Central Valley Community Foundation, the organization led by former mayor Ashley Swearengin. The Alliance for California Traditional Arts chipped in $20,000; the California Trust for Public Land Action Fund contributed $10,000; and Fresno Arts Council $5,000.
In the Fresno City Council run-off races, Tate Hill and Miguel Arias are nearly even, both for cash on hand and debt in District 3. Luis Chavez has a considerable advantage over debt-ridden opponent Paula Yang in District 5. In District 7, Brian Whelan has 10 times the cash on hand as opponent Nelson Esparza.

Valley Congressmen Visit Mexico Border

Congressmen David Valadao (R-Hanford) and Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) visited the U.S-Mexican border in California today.

Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford) near the U.S. – Mexico border in Imperial Beach (Handout Photo/Office of Rep. David Valadao)

According to a Valadao news release, the Valley congressmen toured the Otay Mesa Detention Center and the San Ysidro Port of Entry.
The situation at our southern border faces several challenges and overcoming these obstacles requires a multi-faceted approach. There are few things more important than ensuring the safety of children, regardless of which country they hail,” Valadao said in a statement.
“Federal immigration policy has serious consequences for thousands of families especially those here in the Central Valley. It’s critical for (a) member of Congress to have real, firsthand knowledge of the conditions at our border and the situations our Border Patrol agents face each and every day.”

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email