GUSD Election: What you need to know

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James Pace

Voters will weigh in on whether they like the state of education and local schools when they choose in November from four candidates for three seats on the Gilroy Unified School District Board of Trustees.

Notably, two-term trustee and current board president Fred Tovar is not seeking reelection after eight years. He is a candidate for the Gilroy City Council.

Incumbents Mark Good, a three-term veteran, and James E. Pace, running for a second term, are among four candidates who filed by the August 17 deadline for re-election.

The deadline was extended three business days beyond Aug. 12 because an incumbent, Tovar, did not file for re-election.

Good and Pace will vie with school board hopefuls BC Doyle and Paul Nadeau to win four-year seats on the seven-member board of trustees that sets policy for the approximately 11,000-student district, the city’s largest employer.

None of the four up for election submitted official candidate statements for inclusion in voter guides mailed to registered voters, according to Anita Torres, a public communications specialist with the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters.

Such statements typically are used to introduce a candidate to voters and announce his or her positions and priorities on issues.

Filing is free, but including 200- to 400-word candidate statement can cost several thousand dollars, according to Torres and, unlike some school districts, GUSD opted not to pick up that tab for candidates.

Although the school board campaign so far has been low key, several issues could become the focus of candidate debate and voter interest.

Among them are student achievement and test scores; closing the achievement gap for Hispanic students; how to keep school facilities up to date and able to accommodate expected high growth in student population; and the $170 million school bond Measure E passed by voters in June.  

Pace and Good endorsed Measure E. Unlike Good, Pace took an active role in the pro-E citizens’ committee in which elected GUSD officials and top administrators acted as private citizens to avoid laws against campaigning in their official capacities or doing so with public resources.

The group accepted, legally, nearly $48,000 in pro-E donations from firms that have done more than $33 million in business with the GUSD since 2011 and on whose future contract proposals trustees will likely also vote.

Here are brief snapshots of the candidates:

BC Doyle is a retired GUSD employee. He worked for 30 years in the district’s maintenance department and has a son who went through the Gilroy school system. His son and a stepson graduated from Gilroy High School.

Paul Nadeau is co-founder and director of operations at Navigator Schools, the nonprofit that operates the Gilroy Prep and Hollister Prep charter schools. A 17-year resident of the Gilroy school district, he has two sons at Gilroy Prep.

Pace is a former board president. The father of two GUSD students, he is a real estate developer with his family’s Morgan Hill-based firm. He holds a BS degree in computer science engineering and electrical engineering from UC-Davis, according to his GUSD biography.

Good also is a former board president. He is a partner and member of the intellectual property, commercial law and real estate litigation practice groups at Terra Law LLP in San Jose. He has an office in Gilroy.

He also specializes in trademark, copyright, entertainment and internet law, according to his GUSD biography, and has represented public sector employees in work disputes. He is a former Gilroy police sergeant.

Tovar said on Tuesday that he is most proud of his GUSD work in championing higher education for all students, community service work for high school kids and improving GUSD’s relationship with its employee unions.

He also cited as important contributions advocating for and winning board approval for a health clinic on school grounds and passage of Measure E.

 

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