A tense election season in Los Banos is pitting incumbent school district Trustee Tommy Jones against a former city and police department employee, Megan Goin-Soares, for the district’s Area 2 school board seat.
Goin-Soares and Jones were invited to be interviewed by the Enterprise to discuss their candidacies, including questions about themselves, their platforms and thoughts on issues facing the school district.
Goin-Soares accepted, and was interviewed on Tuesday. Jones declined the interview through his attorney, Kevin Little. Jones has directed that all communication go through Little.
Little offered to answer questions through email. However, the Enterprise, to be fair to all candidates, declined.
Q: Who are you?
Goin-Soares, 33, has lived in Los Banos since she was 3 years old. She is divorced and is raising two daughters, ages 9 and 7.
She is the daughter of former school board member Don Goin.
Goin-Soares started out as a lifeguard when she was 18 before becoming a pool manager, then a recreation coordinator for seven years, organizing kids programs and special events for the city.
After that, she was employed as a crime analyst for the Police Department, before becoming a customer service representative for All American Plumbing and Heating in Los Banos.
Goin-Soares graduated from Los Banos High School. She has also taken college courses at California State University, Stanislaus.
Q: Why did you decide to run?
A: “I’ve always been very involved with the city,” Goin-Soares said, adding that she taught anti-bullying and anti-sexting courses to children through the Police Department.
But since Goin-Soares started working for a private business, she said she hasn’t had the same involvement. She missed the feeling of being directly involved with the community, and she hopes to continue her public service by serving on the school board.
Q: What makes you the best candidate?
A: Goin-Soares said her experience being a mother of two children in the school system, having a “love affair with teaching and learning” and understanding how governments work give her a unique experience.
Q: Name three issues important to you.
A: Goin-Soares said that as a trustee she will focus on building new facilities to keep up with the growing student population, hiring a permanent superintendent and encouraging programs that increase parental involvement.
Q: What is the first thing you want to do?
A: “We need to find a new superintendent,” Goin-Soares said, noting that current acting Superintendent Dean Bubar has been managing the district well since being thrust into the position after former Superintendent Steve Tietjen left.
But for the long term, she said, the district needs somebody to be “captain of the ship.”
Q: How will you address future anticipated growth?
A: “We’re constantly trying to keep up with the growing number of students,” Goin-Soares said. “When I went to school, I was sitting on a couch in English class. Building new schools is our constant need.”
Q: How will you approach low student test scores?
A: Goin-Soares said the main focus has to be on progress when it comes to analyzing student test scores.
“Teaching is hard, and we can’t say they aren’t doing their job,” she said. “We really need to get together and figure out what’s working and what’s not.”
Q: What can you say about your opponent?
A: Goin-Soares said she has known Jones for a long time, from when he was a teacher to when he was a City Council member and mayor.
“I’ll stick with the fact that he still gets to have his day in court,” Goin-Soares said about Jones’ corruption charges. “But I can see where people are calling for him to resign. I can understand that it does take a lot of time to deal with court issues. I think it’s extremely unfair to the kids.”