Clovis Unified voters will get a rare experience this fall when they cast ballots for school board members.
Recent history shows candidates have had an easy road to victory. In 2010, the three incumbents up for reelection had no challengers. And in 2008, newcomers Chris Casado and Scott Troescher ran unopposed.
But this time there are choices in two of the four races.
Richard Lake is trying to recapture the trustee seat he gave up in 2008 after 16 years on the school board. He will face the man who replaced him, Troescher.
In the other race, Debra McKenzie, a Fresno County administrative analyst, is challenging Casado, owner of Cal Produce Sales in Fresno.
Incumbents Ginny Hovsepian, who has been on the board since 1992, and Brian Heryford, a trustee since 1996, are running unopposed in the upcoming election.
Clovis Unified, with nearly 40,000 students, is Fresno County's second-largest district, behind Fresno Unified. Its recent 876 API score on a 1,000-point scale places it near the top of all California school districts testing more than 25,000 students.
The district's success is probably why voters don't like change, Casado said.
"It's an incredible machine," he said.
The last time an incumbent was challenged was in 2004, when Lake received nearly 78% of the vote in beating challenger Lucia Flores-De La O.
And the last time a trustee lost was in 1993. Challenger Robert Rowley beat incumbent Elizabeth "Betsy" Sandoval. But Sandoval wasn't gone long. In 1996, the school board appointed Sandoval to replace Rowley, who resigned to take over a family business in Nevada.
Sandoval remains on the seven-member school board.
It's unclear whether the candidates will spend big money for a position that pays $750 a month. Only McKenzie has filed finance campaign statements with the county Elections Office. The deadline to file is Oct. 25. She has spent $3,335 while gaining $2,050 in contributions as of Sept. 30.
"I'm committed to this race," said McKenzie, who has invested in three billboards, yard and street signs, and is using a website, Facebook and Twitter to get her name out. She also is going door-to-door and phone banking.
"She's a tech whiz and more power to her," said Casado, who has no plans to use the social media. Instead, he said he has some yard signs and a few fliers that he has been sticking on windshields.
Troescher and Lake also appear to be using the traditional method of going door to door and using yard and street signs. Troescher does have a Facebook page.
"People know who I am and what I stand for," said Lake, who ran unsuccessfully for the 2010 Republican ticket for Congressional District 20.
Here's a closer look at the two races.
Area 5 (downtown)
Lake said he is making a comeback with the help of some big-time supporters, including former Clovis Unified Superintendent Terry Bradley and former Clovis board member John Coffman.
Troescher has some political clout of his own: former Clovis Unified Superintendent Floyd B. "Doc" Buchanan, Clovis Mayor Jose Flores, and former Fresno Mayor Alan Autry are in his corner.
"It should be a fun race," said Lake, who added it was an easy decision to get back into local politics.
"Some of my friends asked me to consider a run for my old position, so I talked to my wife about it and we decided we would do it," he said.
Lake said he graduated from Clovis High, his three children graduated from Clovis High and his four grandchildren attend Clovis Unified schools.