Ernest Velasco was appointed by the Riverbank Unified School District Board of Trustees to fill the vacant seat of Trustee Area 1 at a special board meeting on the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 21.
There were no applicants that filed to run for the vacant seat by the August deadline. The Education code section 5328 states that if there is no person nominated, the governing board shall appoint a qualified person at a meeting prior to the day fixed which is Nov. 3 for the election, and that the appointee shall be seated at the organizational meeting on Dec. 8 of the board as if elected at a district election.
Velasco will begin his term in December.
“I have always felt the need to help my community as much as I can,” said Velasco. “I plan on voicing my opinions as clear as possible.”
The board interviewed two applicants for the vacant seat, Mary Bento and Ernest Velasco. After the interview and a lengthy discussion with each candidate, the board selected Velasco.
A 20-year-old local resident, Velasco attended the Riverbank Unified Schools in elementary, middle and high school. He spends time volunteering in the after school tennis programs. He has also volunteered in the family resource center’s summer school program. Velasco has a passion for helping others. He has brothers who attend Riverbank High School and the Riverbank Language Academy.
Current trustee, Ana Vigil, who resides in Area 5 did file the only application for the Area 5 trustee area. She was appointed to the board in 2014 and desires to continue to serve the district as the Area 5 trustee. Since Vigil was the only applicant, she will be sworn in as the Area 5 trustee at the Dec. 8 organizational meeting.
A few years ago, Riverbank Unified joined several California school districts in moving to trustee area elections. The impetus to move away from at-large elections for school districts and some cities is the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) that was enacted in 2002. The CVRA authorizes voters of any race the right to sue for an alternate election system, usually requiring the agency to change from at-large elections to trustee area elections. The CVRA is intended to provide more protection and representation for underrepresented minority groups. This year was the Riverbank Unified School District’s first opportunity to have trustee area elections. In 2017, trustee areas 2, 3, and 4 will be up for election.