Editor’s note: This is the fifth entry in a series of interviews with candidates running for office in the upcoming local elections. Interviewees will include candidates for the Watsonville City Council, the Pajaro Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees, the Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency and the Cabrillo Community College Governing Board. For information on all candidates and offices visit votescount.com.

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY—The governing boards for the Santa Cruz County Office of Education and Cabrillo College could both see a substantial upheaval on election day, as incumbents from both bodies face challengers.

Nichols, Sales face challenges

The seven-member Santa Cruz County Office of Education (COE) board decides on policies that govern the nine school districts in the county, along with several home and charter schools.

Former educator Sandra Nichols served in the Pajaro Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees from 2000-12, and has held her Trustee Area 3 seat in the COE since she was elected that year. She is facing a challenge from Mike Kubo, a Research Scientist and Education Outreach Coordinator.

Jane Barr, who has held her Trustee Area 5 seat since 2012, is not running for reelection.

Alyssa Wall, a college lecturer and advisor, and Brad Williams, an emergency room nurse, are now vying for the position.

Realtor Dana Sales has served on the board since 1992, and is the longest-standing member. Ed Acosta, a member of the Watsonville Planning Commission, is vying for Sales’ Area 6 seat.

3 seats up for grabs on Cabrillo Board 

Rachael Spencer has held her Trustee Area 4 seat since 2004. She also chairs the UC Santa Cruz Physical Biological Sciences Dean’s Council.

Spencer faces a challenge from Diana Alfaro, who works as Project Manager at MidPen Housing, where she has worked on the development of 700 units of affordable housing in Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Mateo counties. She is also active in the Democratic Central Committee and Affordable Housing Now.

Leticia Mendoza is executive director of the YWCA in Watsonville. She has been on the board in the Trustee Area 5 seat since 2016. She is also active in First 5 Santa Cruz County and the Child Care Planning Council Santa Cruz County.

She is facing Felipe Hernandez, who has served on the Watsonville City Council since 2012, including a stint as mayor in 2016. He also was a member of the city’s library board and planning commission.

Ed Banks worked as a Watsonville firefighter from 1981-2006, and still volunteers with the agency’s Gene Friend Fire Museum. He is a partner and owner with KBK insurance. He has held the Trustee Area 7 seat since 2012.

Retired teacher and community activist Steve Trujillo, who previously ran for Watsonville City Council, will challenge Banks for the seat.


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