Election season is already starting Tuesday in Los Banos with a vote on whether to recall school board member John Mueller.
Voters in Los Banos Unified School District’s board of trustees District 7 will have two questions on which to vote.
The first question asks if Mueller should be recalled from the school board with two years left in his term. Residents can vote “yes” or “no.”
If a resident votes against recalling Mueller, voting ends. But if a resident votes in favor of recalling him, the voter will be asked to vote on a candidate to take his place, former Santa Clara fire Capt. Ray Martinez, who unsuccessfully ran for City Council in 2014.
Mueller has denounced the recall effort as a drain on taxpayers.
The recall effort is being spearheaded by the Community Advocacy Coalition. A member of the group, Baldo Salcido, served Mueller a recall notice in December, claiming Mueller was complicit in low district test scores and was not responsive to his constituents, claims Mueller denies.
“I think this recall is the biggest waste of taxpayer money by a single interest group I’ve seen in my entire life,” Mueller said.
CAC members have described their group as a network of people who support each other.
The special election could cost the school district $12,000 to $18,000, said David Sullivan, assistant registrar of voters for Merced County.
Mueller and Martinez say they have shaped their views on education based on their own experiences.
Mueller said he has lived the tough life that many students in the district go through. His parents died when he was a teenager, and he was homeless for a time.
It was the bond with a Los Banos teacher that he said saved him from negative influences in his life.
“He would make sure I wasn’t out on the streets being in trouble,” said Mueller, who went on to graduate from high school and college and own a business, JM Contractor Services, for 10 years.
Through his construction experience, Mueller said he introduced the school district to a new construction method that cut in half the original price to build Mercey Springs Elementary School.
Mueller said he supports creating an equal field for all students, including hiring the best teachers and administrators regardless of ethnicity or race.
That stands in contrast with Martinez, who advocates for the makeup of school staff to reflect its diverse student body.
Martinez, a co-founder of CAC, described himself as a deeply religious man. He said he would focus on educating the younger children in the district by focusing on student-teacher relationships. That bond is more successful when connecting with someone of their own background, he said.
Martinez said he learned from his experiences growing up and connecting with a Latino role model. He started giving that experience back as a mentor to troubled youths in juvenile hall and the Boys Ranch in Morgan Hill for 12 years.
“I think the most effective relationships you have is usually with people the same culture as yourself,” Martinez said.
Voting booths will be open for District 7 residents from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Los Banos City Hall, 520 J St., and the College Green Building, 1815 Scripps Drive.
Voters with vote-by-mail ballots can drop off their ballots in a drop box at City Hall prior to election day during normal business hours.
Residents can see what district they are in and who their representatives are by going to www.mercedelections.com/en-us/community/who-are-my-representatives.