KINGSBURG – The Nov. 6 General Election is less than two weeks away now and Kingsburg candidates seeking seats on either the Kingsburg High School District Board or City Council have shared some information about themselves for readers.

In the City Council race, elections are now held by district. There are three seats up for election, but Mayor Michelle Roman is unopposed. There are six candidates in total vying for the two other districts.

In the school district races, there are also three seats up for election on both the high school and elementary boards. At the elementary level, no one ran against incumbent Karyll Smith Quinn for District 5. Brad Bergstrom was the only candidate who filed for District 1 and Shane Murray was the only candidate for file for District 3. Those board members will be appointed to their seats.

At the high school level, no one ran against incumbents Mike Serpa for District 3 or Stephen Nagle for District 5 so they, too, will be appointed. School psychologist Corina Mendoza is vying for District 2 and is running against incumbent Brent Lunde. Here are their profiles:

Kingsburg City Council

District 1

Name: Jewel Hurtado

Occupation: Mother and community organizer.

Education: Kingsburg High School graduate and current sociology major.

Community involvement: As a life-long resident of Kingsburg, I have always done my best to give back to the town that has given so much to me. It gives me a great deal of both pride and pleasure to use my talents towards highlighting our town’s beauty and charm.

I have sung the National Anthem for a variety of different city events, local sports games and school gatherings because I believe in showcasing Kingsburg’s youth culture. I have thoroughly enjoyed working behind the scenes in several of Kingsburg’s elementary dramas, doing hair and makeup and at the age only 14, I even helped direct a production of “Treasure Island.”

As a result of my community involvements, I have cultivated strong, long-lasting relationships with the children and young people of our community. I have also worked as a Central Valley community organizer. I have focused my schooling and career on connecting and educating our neighbors through civic engagement, sharing resources and promoting strong family values. Workshops, community clean ups, family gatherings and hosting leadership trainings for local youth are how I spend most of my weekends. I have the ability to reach across all demographics and find common ground in even the most diverse settings.

What experience do you have that makes you the most qualified candidate?

A little over a year ago I was appointed to the Community Services Commission by our Mayor Michelle Roman. In this position, I advise our City Council on parks and recreational activities that take place in town. Serving on this committee has prepared me for the structure of meetings and understanding all the behind-the-scenes knowledge needed to lead in a way my neighbors and son can be proud of.

What do you see as the most important issues in the community and how would you address them?

One of the reasons I am proud to be raising my son in Kingsburg is because our town is known for being one of the safest in our area. With the passing of Measure E, it is obvious that public safety is of importance to Kingsburg’s residents. Our police and firemen have done an excellent job for many years, despite their limited resources. We must, however, move forward and ensure that the new incoming tax dollars are allocated in the most efficient and effective ways. Proper budgeting - or being good stewards of the financial resources we have and will accumulate - is of the utmost importance. A safe community attracts and retains residents as well as businesses. Additionally, as a Community Services Commissioner, we have focused many of our meetings on the Athwal Park project. While many of the residents in District 1, and all over Kingsburg for that matter, have lost hope in this project, I am proud to say, that its time has come! We are now finally in the beginning phases of fruition and have the opportunity to make the dream a reality. I will continue to follow along closely every step of the way.

In conclusion, something that I feel to be very important is inclusivity. This is an issue that I have run into with a number of neighbors. I have seen first-hand how hard our city works to make sure people are informed. However, I think it takes us making an extra effort to make people feel more important. I have talked to residents who have never had a single person reach out to hear from them in the 20+ years they’ve lived in town. If elected, I promise to do my best to walk the extra mile, taking time to continue to reach out to my neighbors and hear their concerns. I plan on making sure that their voices are not only heard, but respected.

What makes you different from the other candidates in your race?

When I found out about the redistricting, I was thrilled! Not only did I grow up in the area I am running to represent, but I still live in the same home I that I have shared with my grandparents for most of my life. I now have this unique opportunity to give back to the neighbors who have given so much to me. Raising my son now in the same house is my number one motivation to be the best leader I can be. While still in high school, I began my journey to serve. I have worked in our community engaging our youth in voter education and have done my best to be a reliable, listening ear. I am always more than willing to make myself available to all residents, from grandparent to grandchild, you all matter. My desire is to play an active role in preserving our small-town values and charm. I am running to ensure that Kingsburg will continue to be what it always has been, and more. Local government should be accessible and welcoming to all, and I can make that happen with your vote! Thank you.

Name: Nathan Williams

Occupation: Healthcare administration

Community involvement: I have had the opportunity to serve our community in a number of ways and in areas that contribute to quality of life for others. First, I am the co-community club leader for our local 4H Chapter. In this role, I help lead the kids on how to run the club. This includes instruction on how to manage the finances of the club. I represent our community by serving as vice president of the 4-H County Council that guides the county program. In addition, I am proud to serve on the United Health Centers of San Joaquin’s Board of Directors. I was recently appointed to be a part of this organization that provides a number of health care-related services to 19 different communities around the Valley.

What experience do you have that makes you the most qualified candidate?

As a health care leader, I oversee a multi-million dollar business that provides care on a daily basis to up to 56 residents with complex medical issues. Some of the duties I perform are: creating and managing financial budgets, overseeing major construction projects and public health issues. I have a wonderful staff of 70 people from nurses, to therapists, to nutrition specialists. On a daily basis, I have the responsibility of being in compliance with state and federal regulations, all while providing first-class medical care and being the employer of choice in my community. Each day, I am tasked with making decisions and prioritizing items so that I am able to achieve my mission. I am a proven leader and problem solver that comes to the table with ideas and solutions, and not as a passive participant.

What do you see as the most important issues in the community and how would you address them?

Public safety and economic growth are the two major issues that face our town. In the realm of public safety we have passed Measure E that grants our city a unique opportunity for our community: a chance to allocate needed resources to schools and those residents of District 1. Currently, our fire department is understaffed. This has resulted in our brand-new station built to serve District 1 being closed. We need to be certain that the residents of District 1 have the same public safety response times as the rest of Kingsburg.

We also have a town that is unfriendly to business. We have lost major businesses, such as Kmart and soon, Bank of America. This has led to a seven percent loss of revenue into our city’s general fund. We must build a business-friendly culture that allows us to work through any problems that businesses have during start up and structures to support expense management while creating a culture for success.

What makes you different from the other candidates in your race?

I was raised in Kingsburg and it has been my home for as long as I can remember. Kingsburg has been a community that has helped shape the person I have become today. I am a strong leader that has the opportunity to run a local business that I have set priorities and make tough decisions for every day. I am asking for the privilege to serve my community as I am a proven leader that leads from the front and asks tough questions. I am not afraid to try new things and explore new ideas. It is important to me that Kingsburg stays true to the values that provided the environment that helped me become the successful person I am today and for my future children that I plan on raising in our town. It’s true what they say: it takes a village to raise a child and that’s what brought me home.

Name: Staci Smith

Occupation: Senior financial analyst for Mercury Insurance Group

Education: Certified public accountant and a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from California State University, Northridge.

Community involvement: Kingsburg City Council member, member of the Kingsburg Economic Development Committee, member of the Fresno County Five Cities Economic Development Committee, member of the Association for the Beautification of Highway 99 Committee, liaison for the Fresno County Office of Tourism, auditor for the Kingsburg Covenant Church and former Church Board Member and a cleared volunteer for the Kingsburg Elementary School District.

What experience do you have that makes you the most qualified candidate?

I am a current City of Kingsburg Council member and I have spent my term listening to the desires of the community and doing my best to make them a reality. I am a member of the Kingsburg Economic Development Committee and the Fresno County Economic Development Committee and this has provided me with insight on how to incorporate incentives to encourage businesses to open in Kingsburg. I have an extensive background in financial analysis providing me with the expertise for the proper planning and budgeting necessary to continue with strong financial resources and the foundation for Kingsburg.

What do you see as the most important issues in the community and how would you address them?

Kingsburg is a great community and I want to keep it that way. The issues that I see facing Kingsburg are safety, economic development and community planning.

Kingsburg has a reputation for being a safe and clean town. While on the Council, we discussed a public safety tax for more than two years and in June it was placed on the ballot and passed by the community as Measure E. The additional sales tax funds will provide the additional resources needed to put more public safety officers on the street. I will continue to work to make sure that Measure E funds are used to keep Kingsburg the safe community that we desire.

Kingsburg is a business-friendly community and we provide incentives that encourage and assist businesses to open and be successful in Kingsburg. I will continue to work to ensure that we continue to provide incentives and tax rebates to bring in additional businesses and increase sales tax revenue. Additional funds will be used to maintain and improve the quality city services we enjoy in Kingsburg.

As the real estate market has rebounded, we are seeing new housing developments in Kingsburg. I will continue to work to make sure to uphold the standards of our community and ensure that these developments contribute to the quality of life that Kingsburg is known for. I have been working with the Council to improve the amount of green space for the community. We are currently reviewing park improvements to be made at Athwal Park and we have budgeted for the purchase of land for a sports complex. I will continue to work to make these improvements a reality that will provide more park opportunities for our youth and families alike.

What makes you different from the other candidates in your race?

Experience matters. While on the Council, I have proven myself as an individual that listens to the citizens of Kingsburg and understands what makes Kingsburg special, as well as what is important to our residents. I will continue to keep the residents informed of the issues that they are concerned with as I continue to listen and put the community’s desires into action. I will continue to use my experience and financial skills to review any questions and provide insight for the community. By working together and partnering, we can resolve any issues we face in Kingsburg.

District 5 Candidates

Name: Melissa Bethel

Occupation: Marketing manager

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Education: College

Community involvement: I’ve been a resident of Kingsburg for more than 26 years. I’m a full-time working wife, mother of two and a grandmother of one. I have held a position on the Community Services Commission for many years and then was appointed the Chairperson for the Community Service Commission in 2008. I have been involved with improvements to our parks and miscellaneous city projects.

My husband and I also have been involved with our local community since our arrival in 1991, through the participation of football, basketball, baseball, soccer, FFA, band and golf. I have also been the team leader for Kids Day in Kingsburg for over 18 years. My other areas of volunteerism include Fresno Rotary, Relay for Life and SPCA.

Working for a locally owned company gives me the insight to see on a daily basis what is happening in our community. I would represent District 5 to the best of my ability and to listen to the residents and be the voice for District 5.

What experience do you have that makes you the most qualified candidate?

My involvement and dedication to my community.

What do you see as the most important issues in the community and how would you address them?

I would look to the residents of our community, my voice cannot be the only one heard. I am running to listen to the voices of my community and be their voice. This election is for the people, not for just a single person like me. Hopefully with my government experience with my community involvement I can be the strong voice for District 5.

What makes you different from the other candidates in your race?

My experience with government policy and procedures with the City of Kingsburg.

Name: Vince Palomar

Occupation: Machinist and coach

Education: Kingsburg High School graduate

Community involvement: Thirty years as a Kingsburg coach (wrestling, baseball, softball, soccer and currently coaching Kingsburg Lions Youth Football); I’ve participated Dala House Trot for more than 25 years; Bible study instructor; and attend most Kingsburg community events as a dedicated citizen.

What experience do you have that makes you the most qualified candidate?

I am a life-long Kingsburg resident who knows the people and the needs of the community. When you live with the people of this community, you value and respect the hopes and dreams they have for their children and their grandchildren. I am the candidate that will create a wonderful future for the children, the youth, the young adults and the long-term Kingsburg residents who have made this a wonderful community.

What do you see as the most important issues in the community and how would you address them? The most important issues of our community are related to sustaining the wonderful community we have built together while also being smart about creating revenue and maintaining our small-town charm. Our future is about investing in our youth while tapping into the wisdom of our most experienced citizens. Increasing revenue as an investment in our future will lead to a thriving community dedicated to economic sustainability and family values.

What makes you different from the other candidates in your race?

I am the only candidate born and raised in Kingsburg. Through my belief and dedication to Kingsburg children, we have developed a world-class community that has excelled in athletics, academics, the arts and economics. I have given my life to my children, my wife and hundreds of Kingsburg youth who have become the core of our community. If you want a candidate that respects the traditions of our community while also setting a path to a more prosperous and focused future, Vince Palomar is your vote.

Candidate Sirina Resendez did not return a response for the profile.

Kingsburg High School District

Name: Brent Lunde

Occupation: General Contractor/Small Business Owner

Education: Graduated Kingsburg High School and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in construction management at California State University, Fresno.

Community involvement: Kingsburg High School Board Member for past 12 years, six of those years as the Board President as elected by my peers. I’ve coached many youth teams over the past decade including soccer, baseball and football.

What experience do you have that makes you the most qualified candidate?

As a board member for the past 12 years, I have experience dealing with district finance and budgets, local bonds, building projects and infrastructure, employee negotiations and hiring of staff.

With my construction background, I was able to offer professional advice on the football stadium and softball complex construction and other campus upgrades.

I was part of a team that successfully negotiated a deal to cap soaring healthcare costs to the district in order to keep the district financial solvent. As a lead negotiator over the past five years, we have raised salaries nearly 20 percent district wide.

Recently, we have brought technology into the hands of each student as the last bond the community passed allowed us to purchase laptops for each student to use while at KHS. I have worked diligently over the past 12 years to help bring the best teachers, administration and other staff to Kingsburg High School.

What do you see as the most important issues in the community and how would you address them?

The most important issue at Kingsburg High school is that we continue to prepare our students for their next phase in life. Whether that next phase is higher education, the workforce, entrepreneurialism, or any other facet of life, we want our students to be successful in whatever they set out to do.

What makes you different from the other candidates in your race?

I’ve been married for 19 years and have five children that range from 8 to 16 years old. Two of my children currently attend Kingsburg High School and the other three will be in the future. My wife and I both graduated from KHS. I feel a great responsibility to continue to lead Kingsburg High School in the right direction. Many people have worked hard to lead the district well in the past, and I want to help continue that task!

Name: Corina Mendoza

Occupation: School Psychologist

Education: Kingsburg High graduate. Earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology with a minor in criminology at California State University, Fresno. Also a Fresno Pacific alumna having earned a dual Master’s Degree in school psychology and school counseling.

Community involvement: Serving at-risk youth as a youth leader at St. Joseph Catholic Church for the past 15 years.

What experience do you have that makes you the most qualified candidate?

I’m of currently working in education as a school psychologist in the Coalinga-Huron School District. As a result, I understand current issues in education, including the new funding model, the LCAP and the college and career readiness standards that are so important to student success.

What do you see as the most important issues in the community and how would you address them?

Funding; I want to evaluate how monies are being utilized to provide services to students. According to stats, more than 53 percent of students at Kingsburg High School are Hispanic. This group is not equally being represented to address social emotional needs or career pathways. I believe that a diverse staff is important to address student needs. I want to examine KHS’ special education department, safety procedures regarding a school shooting, crisis procedures regarding suicide and bullying policies. I would address them by bringing the right people to help establish programs and services to students through hiring.

What makes you different from the other candidates in your race?

I’m a Hispanic, educated women who has a career in education.

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The reporter can be reached at 583-2427 or lbrown@selmaenterprise.com.

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