After an especially fierce few months of campaigning, two incumbents and a longtime district employee won seats on the State Center Community College District Board of Trustees.
Eric Payne (Area 2) and John Leal (Area 3) were re-elected, while former Clovis Community College President Deborah Ikeda ousted longtime trustee Patrick Patterson by a double-digit margin.
The board oversees Fresno City College, Clovis Community College, Reedley College, and centers in Madera and Oakhurst.
Payne’s race was the most interesting, as five candidates each received more than 10 percent of the vote.
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Payne received 28 percent of the ballots, while educator Pao Yang received about 26 percent. The vote difference between the two was about 650 votes. Cherella Nicholson, an advocate and project coordinator, finished third with about 18 percent. Businesswoman Paulina Miranda secured 15 percent, while lawyer Catherine Amador garnered 13 percent.
Area 2 encompasses most of west and southwest Fresno.
Amador’s last-place finish is perhaps the most surprising. She had raised more than $16,000 and campaigned hard against Payne, noting incidents in which the incumbent plagiarized a Fresno Bee op-ed piece and was cited after parking in a handicap spot at Fresno City College. Some believe she ran as a slate with Ikeda and under the wing of two-time former State Center Chancellor Bill Stewart.
Yang campaigned hard, raising $33,000 – most of which came from dozens of $100 to $1,000 contributions from Southeast Asian donors. Yang has an extensive background in private education, with time as an administrator and teacher at DeVry University. He said he hoped to add counselors and streamline the admissions process if elected.
Payne has not filed any required campaign financial reports. Nicholson does not appear to have solicited donations. Miranda raised less than $3,000.
In Area 6, which is mainly Clovis, Ikeda beat Patterson 49 percent to 38 percent. Attorney David Rowell finished third with 12 percent. Patterson had held his seat for 33 years.
Ikeda has been critical of the current Board of Trustees since retiring from the district in May after 35 years. She circulated a report from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, which called Payne, Patterson and Trustee Miguel Arias’ leadership into question. The three trustees have sought to rework the board’s operating procedures and the district’s spending habits.
Leal soundly beat retired Caruthers engineer Ted Miller to retain his seat in Area 3, which is the southern part of Fresno County and a sliver of Kings County. Leal received 59 percent of the vote to Miller’s 40.
Incumbent Richard Caglia (Area 7) was unopposed.