Local Elections

Union-backed candidate wins seat on Elk Grove school board

Crystal Martinez-Alire easily won a seat on the Elk Grove Unified School board Tuesday, beating her nearest opponent by 9,000 votes.

The candidate, an education coordinator at Shingle Springs Rancheria, was endorsed and her campaign heavily financed by the district’s teachers union.

Martinez-Alire won 49.4 percent of the vote, educator Jame Letoa 20 percent of the vote, manager Nicholas Webster 17.4 percent of the vote and business security consultant Tim Gorsulowsky 12.8 percent of the vote with portions of all precincts reporting.

The new board member will fill the Area 2 seat that has been held by Jeanette Amavisca since 1981. Amavisca and fellow board member Priscilla Cox, who has served on the board for 20 years, have decided to retire. Beth Albiani automatically won the Area 5 seat held by Cox because there were no other challengers.

Incumbent Bobbie Singh-Allen also retained her Area 4 seat with no challengers.

The election could change the dynamics on a board that has been divided since the election two years ago that brought in three new board members, including Steve Ly, who was elected to the Elk Grove City Council on Tuesday. The school board will have to appoint a new member to Ly’s Area 6 seat or call for a special election.

The new board members will have to deal with a spurt of growth that is expected to require 54 new schools – 40 elementary schools, seven middle schools and seven high schools – over the next few decades. A recent update to the school district’s master facilities plan shows a projected student population of 110,000 in 20 years. The district boundaries include the city of Elk Grove, as well as sections of south Sacramento and Rancho Cordova.

Board members in the 62,000-student district receive $750 per month and the same health benefits provided to school district employees.

▪ Natomas schools Natomas Unified school board incumbents Lisa Kaplan and Teri Burns shut out challengers Jag Bains and Sachiko Konatsu by a good margin in Tuesday’s election.

In the race for two at-large seats, Kaplan won 36 percent of the vote, followed by Burns with 33 percent. Bains, an assistant civil engineer, finished third with 21 percent of the votes, while psychiatric technician Konatsu had 11 percent.

Kaplan, an education attorney, has been on the board since 2001. Burns, senior director of policy and programs for the California School Boards Association, has been a trustee since 1985.

The race lacked controversy until September, when a 2013 school district letter sent to Konatsu became public, accusing her of verbally abusing school staff and teachers.

All county precincts have reported, but about 100,000 provisional and vote-by-mail ballots are still being counted, according to election officials.

▪ Los Rios Community College District Center High School teacher Marc Allaman and former El Dorado County Supervisor John R. Knight were locked in a virtual tie Wednesday to represent Folsom and most of El Dorado County on the Los Rios Community College board.

Knight had a slim 151-vote lead over Allaman out of 37,140 votes counted in Area 3, and each candidate had 28 percent of the vote in the four-way race. Higher education administrator Brad Trimble was third with 24 percent, followed by Greater Sacramento Urban League leader Leroy Tripette with 20 percent.

Knight, an El Dorado Hills resident, ran on his government management experience as a former county supervisor and planning commissioner. Allaman, who lives in Folsom, said he would ensure that Folsom Lake College and its satellite campuses could accommodate growth from residents moving into a newly annexed portion of Folsom south of Highway 50.

The candidates were vying to fill out the remaining half of Trustee Terry Cochran’s four-year term. Cochran died in February at age 74 from complications related to sinus cancer, according to the district, and he had served on the seven-member board since 1996.

Election offices in El Dorado and Sacramento counties are still tallying mail-in and provisional ballots. The counties have until Dec. 2 to certify final results.

Call The Bee’s Diana Lambert, (916) 321-1090. Follow her on Twitter @dianalambert.