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2020 Election: Who’s Running for School Boards?



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While the November ballot will have a major race on top of the ticket — president of the United States — there will be no races for city or county elected offices.

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David Taub

Politics 101

The Fresno mayoral and council races were wrapped up in the March primary. Same with county supervisor races. But, school boards will be a hot topic.

With one week until the first deadline to run for local office in November, more candidates are filing for local school boards. Here is a recap:

Fresno County Board of Education

Three of the five seats are open for the board that oversees school districts in the county, as well as operates a few schools itself.

Area 2

Gail Gaston, a businesswoman and a Democratic Party activist, has filed to run. Incumbent Michael Robinson has yet to file.

Robinson would be seeking his third term. He’s served since 2012.

Also in Politics 101:

  • Lots of competition for SCCCD trustee seats.
  • Pay raise for Clovis City Council?

Area 3

Daren Miller, appointed to the seat in 2019, filed to be elected in his own right. Two others have filed to run against him — biologist Craig Seber, and James Martinez, a staffer for state Sen. Melissa Hurtado.

Miller says his 30 years’ experience in education and two years on the board give him the edge. Plus, he recently earned his doctoral degree.

“(It) opened my eyes to different trends throughout the United States and to the world as far as it impacts what goes on in education,” Miller said.

Martinez says being raised by a single mother under tough economic circumstances, then going on to Fresno City College and Fresno State influenced his decision to run.

“My life story represents or reflects a lot of life stories. Fresno County students that encounter the same type of barriers at home,” Martinez said.

Miller and Martinez are both active in the local Democratic Party.

“I respect the work Daren has done … I think he’s a great guy,” Martinez said. “In an election, you know, everyone has choices.”

Area 5

Incumbent Allen Clyde has filed to run. He has yet to draw a challenger. He’s served as a trustee since 2001.

State Center Community College District

Four seats are up for election this year. The district oversees several community colleges in the Valley. All incumbents have at least one challenger.

Area 2

Incumbent Eric Payne is running for his third term. He has drawn two challengers with name recognition in the community — communications professional Nasreen Johnson, formerly with Fresno EOC; and Sevag Tateosian, a public health analyst with the county.

Left to right: Eric Payne, Sevag Tatetosian, and Nasreen Johnson are running for the Area 2 seat on the SCCCD board.  (GV Wire Composite/Alexis DeSha)

Area 3

John Leal is running for his third term.  Two candidates plan to run against him — graduate student Danielle Parra of Fowler, and Dary Rezvani, a Fresno businessman who ran for Congress earlier this year, but did not advance beyond the primary.

Left to right: John Leal, Danielle Parra, and Dary Rezvani are running for the Area 3 seat SCCCD board.  (GV Wire Composite/Alexis DeSha)

Area 6

Deborah Ikeda is running for her second term. Chris Milton, a Clovis businessman and civil rights advocate, has filed. Sally Fowler, a retired Fresno Unified administrator, is also listed by the county clerk as pulling papers to run.

“Let’s go!!! Ours time for God’s work to help to create a platform and increase resources for our young adults!!” Milton posted on Twitter.

Fowler is the retired executive director of Fresno Unified’s College and Career Readiness office.

“I’m a better candidate because I’ve been at that level of education for many years where we’ve been actively responsible for developing programs as well as for helping our underserved student populations become eligible and supported through the process of entering into college,” Fowler said.

Left to right: Deborah Ikeda, Sally Fowler, and Chris Milton have filed to run for the Area 6 seat on the SCCCD board. (GV Wire Composite/Alexis DeSha)

Area 7

Richard Caglia is running for his fourth term. He faces two challengers.

Caglia says his leadership has helped make SCCCD a success, with more students graduating and transferring.

“I am the only candidate in this race that has the experience, has been tried, and knows the specifics on where we should be focused in order to better our student’s success,” Caglia told Politics 101 via text. “This board should be for individuals looking to invest in the future of our region, not in getting their foot on the political ladder or resolving the personal beefs they may have with the State Center Community College District.”

Abena Cruise, a community outreach director for Table Mountain Casino and also on the Fresno Commission on Police Reform, has filed to run.

She says she better fits the diversity of the district.

“I’m a representation of the district, representation of being a culturally diverse community, that our representation needs to be on that board,” Cruise said. “It’s time for change. And, I think it’s time for progressive and new innovative ideas and people who can better reach the need of the students, and that needs to be reflective in that board. And therefore, I think that I can do that.”

Jon Bath, a Fresno Unified teacher, also pulled papers to run.

“As a high school teacher, my focus is on the needs of my students as they enter the community college system and struggle to navigate a pathway toward a four-year university or becoming certified in a trade or career technical field that can support their families and ultimately our community,” Bath told Politics 101.

Left to right: Richard Caglia,  Jon Bath,  and Abena Cruise are running for the Area 7 seat on the SCCCD board. (GV Wire Composite/Alexis DeSha)

Fresno Unified School District

Area 2

Elizabeth Rosas Jonasson is running for her second term, and no one has filed to run against her.

Area 5

Incumbent Carol Mills is running for her fifth term. Two challengers have emerged: David Paredes and Alex Desiga.

Area 6

Thus far, incumbent Claudia Cazares, who is running for her second term, doesn’t have an opponent.

Central Unified School District

Four seats are on the ballot, including a special election to fill the vacated seat of Richard Atkins — who resigned in controversy regarding insensitive remarks made on his Facebook page.

Phillip Cervantes (Area 3), Richard Solis (Area 5), and Terry Cox (Area 6) are the incumbents for reelection, although no one has filed yet.

Shawn Brooks, an accounting clerk, has filed for the open Area 4 seat. Brooks ran for the seat in 2018 and lost to Atkins, 60%-39%.

Clovis Unified School District

A preview of those who’ve filed to run thus far can be found at the San Joaquin Valley Sun. A brief recap:

Area 2

The Sun reports that incumbent Ginny Hovsepian is retiring and not running. Three have filed so far — Jacob Trumble, Nicholas Lutton, and David DeFrank.

Area 4

Hugh Awtrey was appointed to the seat last year vacated by the retired Brian Heryford. He is running for reelection for a full term.

Three others have pulled papers: Jonathan Holt, Sean Cohea, and Noha Elbaz.

Areas 5 and 7

So far, only incumbents Steven Fogg (Area 5, running for his second term) and Christopher Casado (Area 7, running for his fourth term) have filed.

Clovis Council to Discuss Pay Raises

Clovis city administrators believe that councilmembers deserve a pay raise. The council will decide on Monday.

Currently, councilmembers earn $1,455 per month for the part-time job. By law, the council could raise its pay a maximum of 10%, pushing the rate to $1,601 per month.

Two years ago, the council decided to tie their raises to what city staff received. Depending on which years are examined, that can mean either a 4% or 6.5% bump.

“If all executives and line staff have received a raise, I will support a similar increase,” councilman Jose Flores said.

Councilman Vong Mouanoutoua said he wants to hear public input before making a decision.

Mayor Drew Bessinger and Bob Whalen said they wanted to study the issue before making a comment.

Any increase would not go into effect until a new council term started. The next election is March 2021. The seats of Lynne Ashbeck and Mouanoutoua are up for reelection then.


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