Election: Union-backed candidates lead Banning school board races

Election: Union-backed candidates lead Banning school board races

Two teachers’ union-backed candidates seeking seats on the Banning school board had the most votes when early election results were released Tuesday, Nov. 7 by the Riverside County Registrar of Voters.


Anne Price and Jason Smith had considerably more votes than their opponents in the race for two open seats.


The Banning Teachers Association has been at odds with the district, saying the board and administrators are not responsive.


“The goal is to get the board to work with parents and teachers,” Banning Teachers Association President Anthony Garcia said Tuesday night.


Banning Unified School District trustees are elected by district. Three people ran in Trustee Area 5, which covers the northwest portion of the district. Two candidates sought the Area 1 seat, which represents the southwest. Only residents within the trustee area can vote.


The Area 1 candidates were: Price, who is retired, and John Bernades Kalani, an entertainment technician at Casino Morongo Resort and Spa. Running in Area 5 were Smith, a power line technician; Mason Patterson, principal at Excel Prep Academy charter school in Moreno Valley;  and Gabriel Westholder, an engineer technician and coach.


The teachers’ union and district are at an impasse over contract negotiations. The union has filed an unfair labor practices complaint, alleging that an hour has been added to the schedule at Nicolet Middle School without negotiations.


The district says the change was made to increase academic time, add an additional minute to the time between classes  and to create equity among all students and teachers in the district.


Trustee Martha Bederio did not seek another term in District 1. The District 5 seat is vacant because Jan Spann resigned after questions arose about her claims of military service in Vietnam. The term was expiring, so the seat would have been on the ballot even if Spann hadn’t left the board.


Trustees are paid $3,675 per year and are eligible for district-paid benefits.