Opinion

Want to find out who’s running in Los Banos? It will take some work

A 2018 Election Vote button on a pile of other buttons
A 2018 Election Vote button on a pile of other buttons Getty Images/iStockphoto

Election Day is less than a month away, and while much discussion involves statewide elections, I’m focused on the local races in Los Banos – namely, for city council and the school district.

Local elections might be the most important, in which each person’s vote clearly counts – especially since both the city and the school district select representatives based on geography. The city has “districts”; the school district “areas.”

Elections by district helps ensure voters in each area know the candidates and eventually the person who will represent them.

There is a challenge, however. Let me say, in advance, that it’s worth meeting that challenge – in order to exercise one’s right to vote and make informed decisions.

All citizens who are not registered should do so by Oct. 22. Someone unregistered Los Banosan reading this who registers by the deadline and then votes on Nov. 6 could be the person who casts the vote that determines a winner.

The main challenge of voting in Los Banos is knowing which district you’re in. It’s been several years since there were district elections in our community, and I’m still uncertain about which city council district or school trustee’s area I live in. My guess is I’m not alone.

Though I’m a low-tech guy, I tried to find websites that show districts/areas. It wasn’t easy.

To find the boundaries of the four city council areas, I went to the city website (www.losbanos.org) then clicked “City Government.” On the drop-down menu, I clicked “Election District Boundary Map.” Eventually, I found my street and realized which district was mine.

Finding my school trustee area last month was even harder. Once I got to the school district website (www.losbanosusd.k12.ca.us), I needed to click “Departments” and then click the drop-down and click “Board of Education.” On that page, in a left-hand column, I had to click “Trustee Area Boundaries.”

Even when I found the right school district website, I couldn’t find my street. That’s when I contacted district assistant superintendent Paul Enos and told him my problem.

Paul worked with district employee Lisa Souza, and between them they made finding trustee areas easier. They put on the district’s home page, under “Navigation,” the “Board of Trustees.” Under that item I found trustee areas, and the icon at the top of the page labeled “Click here for a larger view” – which gave me a clear map.

Then I had to find out:

A) whether my district and/or area had a contested election, and

B) who the candidates are.

For this I had to go to the Merced County website and, after some looking I found and clicked on “November 6, 2018 Gubernatorial General Election.”

Then I had to click on “Elections” (not “Candidates”) and then click again on “2018 Elections.” That’s where I found, after locating Los Banos among the many cities and school districts in the county, my city district and school trustee area. That’s when I realized there is a contested election in both and who the candidates are.

As a public service, I provide below the local districts and areas due for election this year, along with their respective candidates.

City of Los Banos

District 2: Tom Faria and Refugio Llamas

District 3: John Cates and Brett Jones

Los Banos Unified School District

Area 1: Dennis Areias and Anahi Rodriguez

Area 7: Geneva Brett and Raymond Martinez

Please note, it’s up to you to find out the district and area in which you reside.

Now comes the challenge of discovering the ideas and positions of the candidates so we make informed choices. As far as I know, this year there will be no televised event featuring the candidates, their positions and their answers to questions posed by voters. Nor do I know of any candidates’ positions presented yet in a neutral print or digital medium.

It appears voters will have to work a little harder to learn candidates’ positions. I encourage each voter to make this attempt, regardless of how challenging it might be.

Hopefully, in future Los Banos elections we can find ways to make it easier for people to know for whom they’re voting.

John Spevak is a resident of Los Banos; he wrote this for the Los Banos Enterprise. Email john.spevak@gmail.com.

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