Areias recall fails to get on ballot

cpride@losbanosenterprise.comAugust 28, 2013 

A grassroots attempt to get a recall of a school board trustee on the ballot has failed.

Assistant Registrar of Voters Stacey Cotter said signatures for a recall of Los Banos Unified School District Trustee Dennis Areias were not turned in by the Aug. 16 deadline.

A group of 10 residents decided to start the recall drive in response to the reassignment of former Los Banos High School Principal Dan Martin.

The petition was approved April 16, and the group had until last week to collect 2,915 signatures. It is unknown how many signatures were collected.

The petition stated that Areias should be recalled because "He's shown a serious lack of sound judgment, including the reassignment of a competent and successful high school principal."

It also refers to Areias as having "disregard for public input" and having directed "caustic and derisive statements at teachers and students during open forum sessions at school board meetings."

Tuesday morning, Areias told the Enterprise he's grateful to the public for standing by him, but he's sorry he was never able to address the issue face to face.

"It's disappointing that people will print something that's not true and won't meet with me about it," Areias said. "Nine of these people I don't know, and to this day they have not come to me to discuss their problem with me.

"I wish they would call me."

Obie O'Brien is the only one of the 10 recall proponents that Areias said he knows. Last week, O'Brien told the Enterprise that he had no personal vendettas against Areias.

"I just didn't like how the school board is going," O'Brien said before it was announced that the recall effort did not succeed. "People have told me we have an uphill battle with the recall. The town is too small, everybody knows everybody."

Areias said he believes voters' familiarity with him and his family caused the recall not to get on the ballot. He pointed to his family's involvement in 4-H and FFA activities as an example of how he's helped children through the years. He also said that as a school board member, his advocacy for more money to be put toward education shows his commitment to helping children.

"We all know this is the Dan Martin thing," Areias said of the effort to recall him.

On Aug. 9, 2012 Areias was part of a 5-2 vote to reassign Martin to administrator of special projects after Superintendent Steve Tietjen said he had lost confidence in Martin's ability to perform his job.

Areias and board president Chase Hurley are the only two school board members left in office who voted for Martin's reassignment.

At that school board meeting last year, Areias told Martin supporters that he would make a decision and that they could call him to discuss it or vote him out of office if they did not like it.

Areias, 56, has been on the school board since 1997.

In a letter to the editor in the Aug. 16 edition of the Enterprise, the committee to recall Areias vowed to support opposition candidates in the next school board election.

Areias said he is not worried.

"I'm not a politician. I'm not going to sit here and start campaigning," he said. "The school board ran before I was on it and the school board will run after I'm off. I just hope if voters do put someone else in, they will pay attention to the (financial needs) of the district."

The proponents of the recall are Ealtha Davis, Jerry Davis, Gerald "Obie" R. O'Brien, Arlene M. O'Brien, Raymond Razo, Fredrick Todd, Diana Todd, Daryl Van Dyke, Diane Van Dyke and Denise Robinson.

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