DELANO, Calif. (KERO) — The Delano Union School District covers 12 elementary and middle schools, and those who sit on the school board impact the entire community. As in many school board races in Kern County and elsewhere, many parents are running for school board seats. Delano is no exception to this trend.
Elementary schools play a vital role in the early development of children both socially and academically. Parents drop their kids off in the morning and trust that the school will both prepare and protect them. Many parents say that making sure that’s what schools do is what motivated them to run for their local school board.
One of those parents is Delano newcomer Ignacio Ayon, who is very clear about what concern is at the top of his mind.
“Safety. Safety of the children, whether we are talking about fentanyl, them being protected,” said Ayon. “That is my number one goal, because no child should ever feel like they are in harm’s way.”
Ayon has lived in Delano his whole life, and at 33 is the youngest candidate in the race. As a coach, he has spent time with the community, and as a business owner, he wants kids to know that they can do anything.
Ayon also has a 3-year-old daughter, and with elementary schools being the building blocks for the rest of a child’s life, he wants to make sure the academic opportunities in his community are up to standard.
“Our kids are the future, and we started looking for the elementary, what school we were going to put her at, and we looked around, and we were like, ‘Wow, our expectations were higher,’” said Ayon, speaking of what he encountered when enrolling one of his own children in a Delano school.
Elena Quiroz has a granddaughter who attends Fremont Elementary School, and her concerns reflect the concerns heard from parents and grandparents throughout the community.
“They need more security,” Quiroz said in Spanish. “More security for the children.”
Quiroz points to violence in the community and mass shootings across the nation as the catalyst for her concern, and Ayon agrees that the schools should be a safe environment to learn and grow.
“You go to school and you worry about being a child,” said Ayon. “You don’t worry about, ‘Oh man, I am going to get ran over, I am going to get hit by bullets or something.’ That is the worst.”
Including Ayon, there are four candidates running for three open seats on the Delano USD Board. The other three candidates are all current board members running for re-election.
Ramon Mario Cardenas has been on the board for 21 years according to the district, first being elected in 1990. He told 23ABC that he did not want to do an interview.
Efrain Rodriguez, another incumbent running for re-election, has served on the board since 2014. He did not respond to an interview request.
Incumbent Irene Martinez is a board clerk and has been serving since 2018. She also did not get back to 23ABC for an interview.