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SELMA – As the Nov. 6 General Election approaches, we’ve asked candidates seeking spots on the Selma City Council and Selma Unified School Board to share some information about themselves so readers can be informed as they head to the polls.

We asked them to answer a few questions about their community involvement, previous experience, issues they feel are of most importance and solutions they’d like to enact to tackle those concerns. Kingsburg candidates will be featured in an upcoming edition prior to the elections. Here are the Selma candidates’ responses:

Selma City Council candidates

Name: Rosemary Alanis

Occupation: Regional secretary

Community involvement: Neighborhood Watch, organizing a Citizen’s Roundtable which had its first meeting Sept. 26.

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

I am a Selma native and have a passion with leadership experience to improve our community. I have helped run a million dollar business for 16 years and have worked with several regulatory agencies. I have dealt with state budgets not being passed when the business I helped run depended on those funds for operation. That is one of the priorities for the future City Council, to ensure that money earmarked for projects stay with those projects and are not borrowed for another project.

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

Public safety: I believe we need more police officers. We need to find the money in the budget to ensure our police department is fully staffed with qualified officers. We want to keep the ones we have, instead of losing them to other agencies. Our Police Department and Fire Department should be one of our top priorities. They are the ones who risk their lives for our community.

Under served: We need more improvements and community involvement in some of our older neighborhoods. Street lights and property improvements for our citizens who cannot afford solar, a new roof, etc. Let’s work together and see if we can get some grants for beautification in those neighborhoods. Let’s start with the area by the Boys and Girls Club.

Gangs and drugs: Our community has resources to help with homelessness, drug addiction and depression. Let’s tap into their resources. Let’s get to those kids who might be swayed into participating in gang activity before the gang members get to them. We need to work with our school system and ask how we can help. Those kids are our future.

Economic growth: I want to see more large businesses come to our community, but we need to clean up our city. Hold commercial property owners accountable for the upkeep of their property. Let’s get rid of blight.

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

I don’t believe I’m a lot different than the other candidates. I think we all have what is best for the community in mind. What makes me different is that I have had shootings in my neighborhood. In fact, there was one two doors down from my house. I just got tired of seeing my street on Facebook with yellow caution tape. This is not a paid position, so it’s not for the money. I am just a citizen that wants to see change and I can’t do it alone. We all need like-minded people on the council and we need citizens who care and will work with us. We are all Selma, not just one neighborhood.

Name: Joel Fedor

Occupation: Plumbing contractor, but don’t let that fool you. Since starting my plumbing career at 16, I’ve also farmed, driven truck, been a mechanic, taught apprenticeship classes and much more! And all that while being a husband, father and best of all (sorry kids) a grandfather. 

Education: High School graduate (barely). My dad died when I was 18, so formal schooling just wasn’t in the cards for me. That doesn’t mean I don’t like learning, though. Educating myself is a favorite pastime. When asked a question where I have no idea of the right answer, I’ll tell you, “I don’t know,” but I won’t stop there. Let’s do some research and educate ourselves so that next time we will know. While education does happen in schools, I believe it begins there rather than ending when we throw on a cap or get a diploma. Life is a school we all attend!

Community involvement: As I stated at the forum, which if you haven’t seen I strongly encourage you to, I’m more of a behind-the-scenes kinda’ guy. I’m far more likely to be doing some plumbing at some park before a tournament than to actually be at the tournament. I feel like anything I can do to help the city is a benefit to all in the city. I am not a member of any clubs or groups, which I believe makes me beholden to none, but the city and all its residents.

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

This is where I’d love to be able to tell you that I’m the best ever and you’d be silly not to vote for me, but I can’t. This is a great field, full of ambitious, intelligent, loving, knowledgeable candidates. That said, I can run a business, I can build things, I get jobs done. My strength is in construction and knowing how to navigate the public works world. This is what I do. I believe that Selma needs to grow and I can help.

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

We need growth! Selma seems to be stagnated. Growth creates revenue. The infrastructure however needs to be right. Plopping down some big box stores or mashing 100 new homes in some part of town is a great thing if were ready. Putting more residents on our already crowded streets and saying “good luck” is probably not the best plan. Sewer, water, streets, these are important! If you disagree, try getting through a day without using a couple of those. Remember, growth creates revenue and that money is then spent on the city via parks and recreation, police department, fire department, youth programs and community events.

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

My background in construction, especially the public works realm. This is where I have spent most of the past more than 15 years. I have been involved with jobs like the Grizzly Stadium, Juvenile Justice Campus and even the Selma High School pool. These are public works jobs, built with public monies, much like the police station that we are currently trying to get built. Knowing how the system operates, I believe, would be a huge asset to the city in regards to the police station and any other project built during a Fedor tenure

Name: Sarah Guerra

Occupation: Business owner

Education: Attended Reedley College

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

I’ve been a board member for Selma Youth Cheer for eight years. I am a board member for United Health Center, a Chamber of Commerce member and proud sponsor of the Selma High Staley Stadium scoreboard, Selma High School scholarship fund and Selma’s sports and community events. I have a strong background managing personnel finances of a business. I was born and raised in Selma, so I have a heart for our city.

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

Public safety and economic development are two issues. I will take action to support an increase of police officers’ presence on our streets. I will work to revitalize Downtown Selma and support existing business in our retail areas. I will work to bring new businesses to Selma.

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

I have a lot of experience running a successful business. I have a long history of community involvement. I will have an open-door policy for citizens to come to my office to address their concerns.

Name: Mike ‘Cheezer’ Munoz

Occupation: Operations manager

Education: High school diploma

Community involvement: The community is very important to me as I have always called Selma my home. I am involved in Selma Ag Boosters at Selma High School, Selma Cancer Support, and I am currently in the process of joining Selma Lions Club.

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

I think the thing that makes me a qualified candidate is that my life has mirrored that of many people in the town of Selma. I have been no stranger to hard work throughout my life and was raised in a blue-collar home. I was taught at a young age to value hard work and being true to my word. The college route wasn’t the right fit for me, so I immediately entered the work force right after high school like many citizens in Selma and I started to learn many of life’s lessons. My appreciation for the City of Selma has grown over the years and led me to the decision to run for office. I truly feel like I am a ‘candidate of the people’ who make up the fabric of this city and share very similar views. I am always approachable and willing to lend a hand to my fellow citizens.

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

The most important community issue that needs to be analyzed and addressed is the crime rate.

We need to really work with the Police Department and make sure they have the resources they need to address these issues. Furthermore, I’d like to explore Community Education Programs for at-risk youth to try and help them from entering into a life of crime by giving them exposure to other options.

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

I think the thing that is most unique about me is my ability to connect with a wide variety of people. I feel equally comfortable talking to people who have advanced college degrees as I do with people who struggled to complete high school. I am very relatable and approachable and I think that if I am elected, this will make people who have traditionally avoided community functions and events feel more comfortable in participating and sharing their voice.

Name: Theresa Guzman Salas

Occupation: Retired

Education: Graduate of San Joaquin Memorial High School, Reedley College and California State University, Fresno.

Community involvement: Charter President and treasurer of Kiwanis Club of Greater Selma for 13 years.

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

Having worked for the City of Selma for 20 years, I have a good idea of how our city government works on a day-to-day basis and how things get done. Having lived in Selma almost my whole life, I can also see the city through the eyes of a citizen and have an idea of what we need. With that insight, I hope I can get things moving in a positive direction.

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

The people of Selma want more services from their Police, Fire and Public Works departments. That can only happen if we have the money to pay for it. For that, we need more businesses to contribute to our tax revenue. So, if we can get more businesses to locate in Selma, we can have the money to provide our citizens with all those services.

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

I’m not influenced by any particular segment of the community so I feel I can represent the whole community equally. I can put the community first.

Name: John Trujillo

Occupation: Owner of Trujillo Tax Service, owner of Max’s Brunch House and Cafe and salesperson for Builders Concrete Viking Ready Mix.

Education: Parlier High School graduate; attended Reedley College; graduated from Heald 4C’s Business College.

Community involvement: I am currently a member of the city’s Personnel Committee, Planning Commission, and a former member of the City’s Streets and Signs Committee. I am a current member of the Selma Lions and Lioness Club. In 2013, I donated $9,000 to the Selma Animal Shelter to purchase concrete. In 2015, I donated the building of what is now Max’s Brunch House Café to the Selma Art Center for the entire year while their building was under construction.

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

I bring 18 years of experience working with developers and contractors that will help create economic development for the City of Selma’s growth. My knowledge in business development will allow me to assist in helping small businesses succeed.

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

Building a strong economy: Building relationships with business owners is a priority. Work to streamline the approval process to attract new businesses.

Improving public safety: Increase police training budget so our officers have the tools they need. Increase patrol routes to protect our community and make our citizens safe.

Building a health community: Work in partnership with agencies to address health issues affecting our city. Prioritize smart growth projects and make sure our children have safe communities in which to play.

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

As a business owner I have had the opportunity to speak to a great deal of residents about the past and future of Selma’s safety and economy. I know I can contribute to make Selma a safer community and will be able to bridge a gap between business owners and City Hall.

Selma Unified School District

Incumbent Jennifer Winter is running unopposed to retain her seat representing Area 4. Here are the other candidates, by area, for the two other seats on the Selma Unified School District Board of Trustees.

Area 3 Candidates

Name: Yvette G. Montijo

Occupation: Former teacher, business owner

Education: Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts, bilingual-cross cultural credential with an emphasis in Spanish, linguistics and Chicano studies, post-graduate studies in education administration, Reading Recovery certified and Trainer of Teachers – math.

Community involvement: Rotary Club of Selma, President, member 4+ years; Selma High School Band Boosters, vice-president, member 2 years; Selma Public Education Foundation, vice-president, member 4+ years; Measure O Committee, Campaign Chair, 2016; Selma Women’s Club, vice-president, member 4+ years; Abraham Lincoln Middle School Band Boosters, former fundraising chair, member 3 years; Catholic Women’s Club, member, 4+ years; Girls Scout leader, former co-leader, 3 years; Wilson School Parent Club, former treasurer, member 4+ years; Garfield School Parent Club, former treasurer, member 2+ years; Fresno Compact Award Recipient, 2013, which is awarded to businesses with exceptional partnerships with schools; Selma Chamber of Commerce, Business of the Year, 2013; Selma Unified School District recognition for donation of $10,000 for a playground system for the transitional kindergarten classes at Eric White School.

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

For more than 25 years I have worked with and for children in one capacity or another, hoping to impact both their present and their future. This began in 1990 as a teacher for the Fresno Unified School District and then for the Selma Unified School District. I always chose to work in schools where the children were culturally and linguistically diverse and came from impoverished neighborhoods. Where others saw challenges, I saw opportunities. Case in point, I was part of the teaching staff at Garfield School that worked innovatively to improve test scores and did so by 175 points thereby making Garfield the second-highest improved elementary school in the State of California. That’s what you call ‘Believing in achieving, every child, every day.’ My experiences as a mother of three children (two of which still attend Selma schools) have taught me to be their fiercest, most vocal advocates. Selma students have only one opportunity to receive an outstanding public education, with qualified teachers in a safe and nurturing environment promoting the highest personal and academic standards. To help make an excellent educational experience a reality, I served as the campaign chairperson for the Measure O Committee. Measure O secured funding to make improvements to our aging school infrastructure such as the stadium and classrooms. As a business owner, I have committed thousands in fiscal resources and hundreds of hours to improve the quality of education and educational experiences for children. My business was awarded the prestigious Fresno County Compact Award for building an exceptional partnership with Selma schools to help students reach their full potential. We also donated Eric White’s transitional kindergarten play equipment, sponsored literacy events, funded music activities and scholarships. Finally, there’s no question that I have a servant’s heart and believe in leading by example. I freely and willingly give of my time to many school and community organizations because I fully realize that our children are our greatest treasure, each one worthy of our investment.

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

One of the issues that loom largest on the minds of parents is the physical and emotional well-being of their child. Specifically, are campuses safe enough and is my child thriving socially and not the subject of bullying? Students don’t learn as effectively when they are distracted by other, more human concerns. To be most effective, we need to keep safety at the forefront and provide for more access to therapists to help those cope to challenging social situations. Secondly, we need to continue to strive towards closing the achievement gaps that exist for second language learners and those from socio-economically challenged backgrounds. One way that we can tackle this problem is by looking for opportunities that improve early childhood education (birth to pre-school) in our community such as better daycare options and parenting classes. Lastly, we need to ensure our Selma students are college or career-ready upon graduation. We should be focusing on improving and expanding programs that offer next generation math/science learning, greater access to career and vocational training, and exploration of college and career opportunities in a digital age.

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

I am different because I am the total package. I was a teacher for 14+ years and I have a deep understanding of curriculum, instruction and the how schools function. Essentially, I understand what board policy looks like in the trenches, in the actual classroom and that gives me a great deal of insight as to what would be best policy for all stakeholders. My post-graduate education in educational administration lends another layer of understanding of the education system from the perspective of school administrators. From a practical stand point, serving on the City Council and other organizations has afforded me the opportunity to learn how legislative bodies function and given me a firm understanding of their roles and responsibilities to better drive policy that makes a true difference. Education is what I know best. It’s what I trained for, it’s what I did, and it’s what I’ve always loved. No other candidate can lay claim to that!

Name: Roger Orosco

Occupation: Pepsi salesman

Education: Two years of college

Community involvement: My community involvement would include being a political watchdog that asks our local officials tough questions and demands answers from them. I then, in turn, try to relay that information to our community.

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

From 2010-2015, I was on our school board and spearheaded many agenda items that put our kids first. I lead a march for real change and sacrificed my board position to bring real change regardless of our local swamp trying to control the people’s board.

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

The most important issue in our community is a lack of political information getting to the people. I am addressing this issue through social media and our local paper. A local podcast is also in the works.

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

A few years ago while I was on the school board I went to our middle school’s leadership class to talk about safety. They made posters for me. I made every safety issue on those posters a discussion item or action item for our kids. That’s what makes me different. I’m not here for politics. I’m here to get things done for our kids. I am the alternative!

Name: Regina Pallares

Occupation: Senior juvenile correctional officer with the Fresno County Probation Department-Juvenile Justice Campus and counselor with Reedley College.

Education: Bachelor of Arts in sociology and Master of Arts in counseling – counseling and student services, with distinction.

Community Involvement: I have been a resident of Selma for 20 years. Although I have not been directly involved with groups or associations within the community, I have tried to keep myself abreast of the city’s and school’s progress through my close relationships with those who are directly involved with community concerns. Despite my busy work schedule, I organize my time to ensure I participate in community, church and school events and I actively participate in school fundraisers to show my support, not only for my child, but for the school my child attends.

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

I have been employed with the Fresno County Probation - Juvenile Justice Campus for 23 years. My career has provided me with experience in working with at-risk youth as they navigate the juvenile justice system. In my assignment as the training officer for eight years, I was responsible for training new and veteran officers on department policies and procedures. I also scheduled, coordinated and developed lesson plans for training classes to ensure all officers adhered to mandates, laws and legislation that govern how we care for youth who are in custody. As a counselor at Reedley College, my experience has also provided me with insight regarding what students need to prepare for their transition into college or a career technical education programs. Both career paths have allowed me to work with a diverse population of youth with diverse academic, socioeconomic, cultural, disability and ethnic backgrounds. I have worked on various committees throughout my career that have allowed me to work collaboratively with members of my department, other agencies, educational personnel and community-based organizations in an effort to establish equitable opportunities for those within the juvenile justice system and for students seeking higher education. I believe both careers are interlaced and have given me a unique perspective that would be beneficial to the Selma School Board.

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

The most important issues are increasing safety and economic growth. As the City of Selma’s population increases, student enrollment increases. It is imperative to prepare for the future growth of Selma schools by ensuring that we provide administrators, faculty and staff with the necessary tools and resources they need to prepare our children in the K-12 grade levels with an opportunity to receive the best education possible. The best way to know what is going on and what is needed is by speaking and listening to our educators whose perspectives are invaluable. I hope to be given the opportunity to listen to those voices and work collaboratively for the benefit of our children.

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

I believe myself and the other candidates share the same goal, which is to see the children in our community receive the best education. However, what makes me different from the other candidates is that I continue to work with the most vulnerable and broken children. I continue to learn and listen to them regarding what works, and what doesn’t work, in order for them to succeed in a classroom setting. I also work with students aspiring to earn an associate’s degree in their efforts to transfer to a university to achieve their educational goals, despite their personal, academic and financial challenges. As an educator, mother and member of this community I am passionate about ensuring that our children have the tools and resources they need to thrive in our schools.

Area 5 Candidates

Name: Diane S. Jensen

Occupation: I am a Vocational/Technical Career Counselor for the Institute of Technology and the National Holistic Institute in Clovis. Before that, I worked in retail management for more than 30 years.

Education: Business administration and accounting at Fresno City College and California State University, Fresno.

Community involvement: Event leadership with Relay For Life of Kingsburg, Fowler and Selma - Event Leadership; Current Booster Club President of the Selma High Black Bear Brigade Booster Club; Treasurer for the Abraham Lincoln Middle School’s Band Booster Club; Selma High Valley ROP industry advisor; previously served on the Wilson Elementary’s School Site Council; volunteer photographer for Second Chance Animal Shelter; volunteer with Christian Café.

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

Our school district is one of nine high schools that participate in the Valley Regional Occupational Program to provide career technical education to our students. In my role as a career counselor at a vocational/technical college, I work with employers and students every day. The success of Valley ROP relies heavily on the collaboration between district superintendents and board trustees; my experience at the college level provides an experienced and informed voice for our school board and our students that participate in Valley ROP.

What are the most important issues in the schools and how would you address them?

The most important issue for me is that all students have a successful, secure and happy future, whatever that means to them. Whether they attend a university, a vocational school or enter into the workforce.

One of my favorite quotes is: “… if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

We need to work together to provide pathways for success for all students. We need resources available for them to continue their education at all types of schools, to continue to grow our vocational programs, to offer soft skills training, life skills and career-planning tools.

We celebrate our academic and athletic achievers, but do we do enough to recognize students who are artists, musicians, creative talents or that have mechanical/technical skills? We also need to recognize those students who overcome barriers to succeed.

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

In addition to my qualifications in vocational education, I have had a successful management career, responsible for the successful operations of multi-million dollar businesses. I have managed teams of 50 to 150 employees where my responsibilities included recruiting, hiring, training, performance appraisals and disciplinary actions. Additionally, I managed the budget, profit/loss and payroll control.

Name:  Annmarie Summers

Occupation: Worked for Selma Unified for five years as an instructional aide and 25 years in the Migrant Education Program as a liaison.

Education:  Graduated from Selma High, Associate of Arts from Reedley College, and three years at California State University, Fresno.

Community Involvement: I attended school site councils as well as district-level councils such as DAC, DELAC, MPAC and LCFF meetings. I was a volunteer in Bear Backers and also a volunteer and supporter of FFA and Selma Band and also a proctor for Fresno County Academic Decathlon. In CSEA, the bargaining unit’s union, I was district chapter president and Union Steward and I currently hold the position of Regional Representative for Region 13, Area E within the state structure of the California School Employees Association. I have for many years attended Selma District Board meetings and although I am retired I still attend these important school board meetings.

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

Attending school site and district councils has given me insight to how funding affects our schools’ ability to provide services to the students, as well as how schools and the district responds to parents’ concerns on student issues at either the site, or at district, level. Working as an instructional aide and in the Migrant Program, I was able to see the areas where students need additional academic support, as well as where there are gaps in providing additional support to our students. As a school employee in the classified bargaining unit, I was involved in negotiations and discipline procedures and also familiar with school board policies and contracts that affect employees and the working relationship of the employees with the district.

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

It is important to continually work on increasing the graduation rate of the students in Selma. Graduation is important, but it needs to mean something to the student and, in turn, the student needs to be willing to work toward that goal. It is important for the district to provide those skills that will prepare our students to enter the workforce and to nurture student’s belief that achieving a diploma is positive and will benefit their future after graduating. 

To successfully accomplish this endeavor, the dropout rate and habitual absenteeism need to be addressed. Through the process of gathering data on dropout rate and absenteeism, the district is able to investigate and recognize those areas that are still a barrier to our students achieving academically. The district, which includes school board members, administrators, teachers and classified staff, will need to acknowledge and develop an effective action plan that will require all groups of the district to work collaboratively to resolve those issues identified as barriers. These barriers include safety, social, or even economic issues, or a combination of these issues, that restricts our students from attaining their potential.

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

I have lived in Selma for more than 60 years and am aware of the many changes our community has undergone. I have worked for Selma Unified; therefore, I am familiar with the issues the district needs to continually undertake such as academic progress of the students, financial stability, employer-employee relationships and parent-community involvement. In my job duties in the Migrant Program I needed to be bilingual as well as familiar with the culture of the migrant parents which gives me an understanding of how to relate to parents and to students. Because of my background of being in the community of Selma for many years, as well as working in Selma Unified, I believe I can be an effective voice for students, parents and school employees as a School Board Trustee of Selma Unified School District.

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

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