The Bakersfield City School District is California’s largest elementary school district, according to the Kern County Superintendent of schools. The district has 44 schools and serves more than 30,000 students. School district officials say right now one of their top priorities is planning the return of students and staff back to campus safely.
This year seats for Trustee Area 1, 3, 4, and 5 are up for election. Areas 1, 3, and 5 are full-term 4-year seats, while Area 4 is a short-term 2-year seat.
Now, meet the candidates running this year.
In Trustee Area 1 Lilian Tafoya is the incumbent. Tafoya has been a school board member since 1996 and served as a former principal of three different elementary schools. She is a member of the Board of Directors for the National School Board Association and the president of the NSB National Hispanic Council. Tafoya says children will always be the centerpiece of her agenda.
Lilian Tafoya, Trustee Area 1 Candidate
"I have focused on creating conditions that would maximize the potential of all of our students. Ensuring that they have equal access and that they have opportunities to achieve educational excellence and to fulfil their dreams."
Now, meet the candidate running against her, Mike Eggert. He's built a 25-year career working in the BCSD district as a custodian and retired as a custodial supervisor. Eggert says he has 4 top priorities leading his campaign. Watch his video to hear more.
Mike Eggert, Trustee Area 1 Candidate
"Number one is fiscal responsibility. Number two is student achievement. Number three is vocational opportunities for all students and number four is staff engagement."
Up next is Area 3 where Ralph Anthony is the current board president running for re-election. He is also the assistant Pastor of St. Peter Restoration Community Christian Ministries. According to a press release sent by his team, Anthony "...Hopes to continue advocating for equitable solutions and implementing effective policies that put all children first."
Ralph Anthony, Trustee Area 3 Candidate
"In our journey, we've opened wellness centers, expanded award-winning music programs, opened parent centers, provided high-quality professional development for all our staff."
His challenger Dr. Chris Cruz-Boone, has over a decade of experience as a teacher in higher education. According to her professional website she is currently a professor at Bakersfield College. Cruz-Boone says her platform as a candidate includes advocating for social justice, arts, and higher education.
Dr. Chris Cruz-Boone, Trustee Area 3 Candidate
"Admittedly I am a political newcomer. But I think my experiences in our community, with my church, with my research, with education, has prepared me for the challenges that we're facing both as a community and a district."
Now here's a look at the candidates running in Trustee Area 5.
Up first is Bethany Bachman, who is a full-time parent volunteer that says her volunteerism has landed her positions such as District Advisory Committee Chairman, Superintendent Parent Advisory Committee member, and a District Culture, Climate, and Safety Committee member.
Bethany Bachman, Trustee Area 5 Candidate
"My main focus will be school safety, social and emotional learning, and parent engagement. These issues are important now more than ever. Students staff and parents need a school board member that will actively listen to their concerns, and treat them with equity."
Also running for the seat is Shannon Zimmerman, whose been a teacher for nearly 20 years. Zimmerman says she wants to promote 21st century teaching and learning.
Shannon Zimmerman, Trustee Area 5 Candidate
"Although distance learning is a reality, we know students learn best when they're with their teachers. I am fighting for our students to return to school safely. I believe parents need to have a greater say over their child's education and I promote parental choice."
Brooke Malley Ault is another candidate running for Trustee Area 5. She is a former teacher and current high school counselor. Her campaign website states her core values are children first, wellness, and safe return to school.
Brooke Malley Ault, Trustee Area 5 Candidate
"I found that a student struggling to learn, is often a student struggling to have their basic needs met. I know exactly what's going on within BCSD schools because I'm working with these students' older siblings on a daily basis. I'm backed by the Bakersfield Elementary School Teachers Association because they know I will put students first."
Rounding out the list of candidates is Ian Journey, a former BCSD student and who is now a local mechanical engineer and business owner. According to his campaign website, he believes "...The best outcomes occur when parents, schools, and industry work together to develop and implement core curriculum."
Ian Journey, Trustee Area 5 Candidate
"We need school board members who are technically able to step up on day one, to serve all children and not be influenced by outside organizations. I am not a teacher or administrator, I am not a union member, I am not a career politician. I am Ian Journey and I respectfully ask for your support."
23ABC reached out three times to all three candidates running in Trustee Area 4. According to the Kern County Elections website Laura Guerrero-Salgado the incumbent trustee, Benny Valdez and Miguel Juarez are candidates on the ballot. However, none of the three candidates submitted a video in time for air.