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Who’s who: A local candidates rundown

MID Division 5

— Director Carl Janzen, 74, is the incumbent Madera Irrigation District representative for Division 5. The Madera native attended Dixieland and graduated from Madera Union High School. He earned a farm management degree from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 1964. He and his wife Christine were married that same year.

After three years managing a dairy in Morro Bay, the couple returned to Madera to farm and operated a dairy for 41 years with his father Paul and later with their sons Philip and Dennis.

“This year’s rain has allowed MID to have a districtwide (water) delivery following two years of drought-restricted water,” said Janzen.

Challenges facing MID continue to be climate change, federal restrictions such as the Endangered Species Act, San Joaquin River Restoration project, water quality issues, water storage and groundwater rules.

Working with “outstanding” staff and his fellow directors, Janzen said he and the district are dedicated to delivering as much water as possible to its subscribers.

— His opponent John Bese, 65, graduated from Madera High School and attended Reedley Junior College for two years. He recently retired after working more than 30 years at Madera Irrigation District. He started as a canal operator, then worked as a mechanic, followed by a stint as a heavy equipment operator. At retirement, he served as chief of operations and maintenance.

“I know the ins and outs of the district and its issues,” Bese said. “We need to pursue every possible avenue to retain as much (above) groundwater in our county to keep the underground aquifer from declining any lower.”

He and his wife Colleen have two adult children: son Jeremy and daughter Katrina McEwen.

“It is time we push to keep our water in the county and figure out ways to get more. We have to change the federal and state regulations on who gets the water for delivery,” he said. “We already are working with the county and other agencies for groundwater sustainability and need to continue the process.”

He believes this will help the farmers and individuals who live in this county, including city residents.

Mayor Andy Medellin, 48, is a lifelong resident of Madera. He and his wife of 26 years, Marsela, have three children: Andrew, 21, Adam, 17, and Amelie, 12.

Active in the community, he has coached Little League, led as Lions Club president and served almost 12 years on the Madera City Planning Commission. Since 1993, he has owned Andy’s Sports and Design.

The second generation city councilman is the son of past mayor Marge Medellin. He has served on the city council for more than five years.

As a local businessman, Medellin has valuable experience managing budgets and difficult economic times, he said.

“Madera is growing at a rapid pace and I will bring vision, experience and leadership to City Hall,” said Medellin.

Madera City Council, District 2 Jim DaSilva, 49, is a native and lifelong resident of Madera. He attended local schools, graduated from Madera High School and attended college before joining the family business. The son of Tom and Mary DaSilva works as manager of Lee’s Concrete.

“I’m running for office because I want to help and see a safer Madera,” said DaSilva. “I want to give back to the city of Madera.”

Why should they vote for me: “I’m not a rubber stamper, I tell it like it is and will hold all official accountable. I’m a person with great passion for the city of Madera. I’m currently co-chair of the Madera Planning Commission and have a great knowledge of how things are ran.”

Know about me: “I’m very trust worthy, loyal and respected in the community. Parents are Tom and Mary DaSilva, both lifelong residents of Madera. I have two brothers: Tom and John DaSilva. I’ve worked at Lee’s Concrete for 28 years. I’m the manager and love what I do. I always put people first and I’m not scared to put the time in to get the job done. I’ve lived in District 2 all my life and have seen many changes to it. I’m here for the future of Madera; I want people to be proud to say they’re from Madera.”

Madera Unified School District Board of Trustees, Area 1 — Incumbent Ray Seibert and his wife Janelle have eight children, and five are MHS alumni. He attended Ripperdan, MUHS, Reedley JC and graduated from Fresno State with a bachelor’s degree in agri-business management and a minor in agricultural mechanics. His wife graduated from Fresno State and taught at MUSD for 23 years. Three of their children graduated from Fresno State, three from San Diego State, and one from Fresno Pacific University. One is attending Fresno City College.

He is running for re-election because of a passion for the Career Technical Education program. “Though I believe in a strong education program encouraging students to attend college, I know that nationwide 70 to 80 percent of students will not attend or complete college,” he said. “Our students need job skills in career pathways enabling them to find employment or afford to attend college.”

College and career readiness has been his focus while on the board. His 24-years-experience as a trustee allows him to bring history, knowledge and experience to the board, said Seibert.

“Fellow board members asked me to run for re-election, because they appreciate the information that I bring to the table,” he said. “They are concerned that if I am not re-elected, we will lose momentum in the Career Technical Education program.”

The state adopted a Career Technological Handbook initiated by Seibert, as a member of the California Suburban School District, that mirrors the plan our district has in place.

“I am fiscally conservative, looking to get the best value for our money in all areas affecting MUSD and so our school district is financially sound with a healthy reserve,” he said.

He has farmed in Madera for 45 years, brought a gymnastics program to the community and is involved in commercial real estate.

“My diversity in business brings valuable knowledge and experience to our school board. As a father, I have always encouraged my children to strive for their dreams. As a board member, I advocate for all our students, those who are interested in pursuing a college education and also those interested in going to work or to trade schools,” Seibert said.

— Candidate Luis Carrillo, 34, has been a Madera resident since age 8, attended local schools and graduated from MHS.

The father of four said our schools have been guided in the wrong direction by poor leadership for the past 24 years. Our schools are plagued with gangs, violence, drugs and a poor level of education. In law enforcement, he sees the consequences of these factors on students.

“I highly disagree with the district hiring a convicted felon to serve as a mentor to our children,” he said.

The board’s status quo is unacceptable. He believes our children deserve a high quality education with guided direction by highly trained professional educators in a safe and secure environment, he said.

“I have been in public service for over a decade serving under several department heads, dealing with agency policies, associations and memorandums of understanding. If elected, I will advocate, collaborate and communicate with a vision focusing on student achievement with policies that ensure success for all students. (I) will work for competitive wages and working conditions for administration, teachers and support staff.

If elected, the entire student population – including his children — will affect decisions impacting the quality of education in the district to prepare them for life, he said.

“I will fight to and make sure that our school playgrounds are not replaced by trailers and bring the next elementary school to Area 1 while remaining fiscally responsible,” he said.

He plans to work to reduce class sizes and implement curriculum.

He graduated from the Madera Community College, the Fresno Police Academy and will complete a criminology degree in December. He has been in law enforcement for more than a decade with the Madera and Chowchilla police departments, county probation juvenile detention and now as senior criminal investigator for the district attorney’s office.

He received officer of the year, lifesaving award and honored twice by Mothers Against Drunk Drivers. He is the Special Olympic Torch Run and Madera Youth Soccer League assistant coach. “Education is the key to success,” Carrillo said. “We need to fight to ensure that we raise the bar of education for our children.”

Madera Unified School District Board of Trustees, Area 6

— Candidate Lynn Cogdill, 59, has been married to his wife Eildy Cogdill for 10 years. He has three adult step-sons: Attille Kusia, twins Zolton and Levi Kusia. He served four years on the MUSD board with the last two on the personnel commission. In this capacity, he has represented and won discrimination cases for employees. One major issue facing Area 6, he said, is a need to provide the large population of Oaxacan students with translators helping them learn. He has spent his time on the board pursuing the development of a Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps program, he said, with the backing of America Legion Post 11 and “1,800 residents who want the program available to the students. The Junior ROTC program will benefit the community opening pathways to additional scholarship assistance, helping students who want to pursue military service and providing community service and leadership by the participants.” It is “vital” to advocate and protect the rights of special-needs students, parents, and employees, said Cogdill. His greatest concern has to do with the possible passage of Proposition 64, the recreational marijuana bill. He believes he is the most qualified candidate on this issue because he has spent the last 20 months studying how Colorado has reacted to its own law. He spent a week in Colorado talking to law enforcement, teachers, administrators and school boards on how the schools are handling the problems arising with the legalization of marijuana, he said. “MUSD must get out in front of it not wasting time on a learning curve,” Cogdill said. “Learning from their mistakes on the best way to protect students, teachers and employees we can implement the (successful) processes they use. The schools are not prepared for the issues that the passage will generate.” His opponent has been in the job eight years and doesn’t believe the problems in the district have been addressed in Area 6. He has been a community activist for 30 years, fought for employees, students, social issues, while “making sure to correct injustices and that everyone is treated equal,” he said.

Madera City Council, District 6

— Councilman Donald D. Holley, 66, and his wife of 31 years, Joan, have eight adult children, 22 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. The native and life-long Madera resident attended Sierra Vista, Pershing, Thomas Jefferson Middle and Madera High schools. He earned two automotive degrees from Fresno City College. He is running for reelection to continue the projects he has been working for his eight years on the council, he said, including further implementation of the Vision 2025 project. He is honest, cares about kids and the welfare and safety of the public, he said. He believes his constituents can count on him to listen to their concerns and work to help them solve their issues. He is a family man who worships at the Second Missionary Baptist Church as a deacon and for 28 years organized the Jesse Owen track meet in McNally Memorial Park. His opponent has decided against running for council and Holley said he would appreciate a show of support from voters.

Golden Valley Unified School District Trustee, Area 3

— Warren Parr, 62, and his wife of 39 years, Lori, have three adult children and eight grandchildren. Daughter Renee and her husband, Marine Sgt. John Ginn, are stationed in Japan. Son Andrew Parr works for the state. Daughter Leslie Parr attends the Madera Community College Center. He is running for office because he has attended MUSD and then GVUSD board meetings since 1992. He believes his mentor, the late Floyd Buchanan of Clovis Unified School District, helped him understand education issues. He said Buchanan taught him to look at every decision from the perspective of “how will this help my students?” New development in the Ranchos areas will mean a large influx of students and revenue, he said. He would use those funds to build Liberty High School into a comprehensive high school, adding career path education in automotive, manufacturing, law enforcement, nursing and other areas. “Whatever the students will support in career paths, we should provide the training,” he said. He wants to expand vocational education to GUVSD right away through partnerships with Madera South High School and Madera Community College, he said. He will bring his 31 years of business experience — owning Complete Car Care — to the job if elected. “I have survived three recessions and five presidents and (we) are still growing,” he said. He believes Golden Valley is like a business with 235 employees, 1,850 students and a $20 million a year budget. “Between 2009 and 2014, Madera led the nation with 60 percent job growth in the area of manufacturing. According to Forbes, Madera’s growth makes it the fastest growing job creation in the nation,” said Parr. As the third poorest county in the state, he believes the schools are not preparing local students for this lucrative job market, he said. His experience includes the last education bond issue with Carles Beckett in 1998 — completing the south campus with the “Why Not Madera” campaign. He said it was the first successful bond measure in 30 years. — Opponent Andy Wheeler, 43, and his wife of 20 years, Cari Wheeler, have two sons, Brockton and Maxwell, and niece Ketta, who lives with them. He said he is running for public office because, as a financial planner, he wants the focus of Golden Valley Unified School District to be on growing in a way that makes the community proud and he intends to be a voice ensuring that happens. As the only candidate with kids attending school in GVUSD, he has been in touch with where the board is looking to head as well as with families impacted by these decisions, he said. “I want to see Liberty High School work towards completion with an expansion in the agriculture and vocational education programs while recognizing how well the district has done in academics,” he said. “We performed great against our local peers but there is still so much room that we can grow.” He intends to be the candidate his community will reach out to when they have questions, concerns and exciting news to share, he said. “I am accessible and understand the challenges of special education that does not currently exists on our board but impacts so many families, Wheeler said. He believes he is a dedicated parent and community member with the experience where it counts — not solely at board meetings but in the schools as well. He and his wife’s two children progressed from kindergarten through high school in the district.

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