The election to fill three seats on the Fresno Unified School District board has turned out to be a referendum on Superintendent Michael Hanson's seven-year tenure leading the local school system.
That theme is most intense in the campaigns against incumbents Carol Mills in Area 5 and Janet Ryan in Area 6. Both support Hanson, and we believe that Mills and Ryan have earned re-election. We recommend their candidacies in the Nov. 6 election. In Area 2, incumbent Larry Moore is not seeking re-election, and we recommend Luis Chavez as a replacement. Moore is the former teachers union president and has long opposed Hanson.
While we have not always agreed with Hanson on specific issues, we believe that he has done a good job overall. In a district as diverse as Fresno Unified, no superintendent is going to make everyone happy. But on the fundamental issues, Hanson has performed well.
When he took over, the district was nearly bankrupt, and a state takeover was a possibility. It is now on solid financial footing, and has avoided layoffs this year. That's impressive, especially compared with the financial standing of the state's other large urban school districts.
The ouster of Mills and Ryan would shift the balance of power on the school board. This is no time for the district to return to the uneasy days of financial instability.