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School Board Hopefuls Meet In Forum
Incumbents Diane Alcorn and Janai Stanton are running for re-election to the Escalon Unified School District Board and the two, along with challengers for their posts, met in a forum at the high school's Performing Arts Center on Tuesday night.

Stanton is facing competition for her seat from Martha Coelho and Alcorn has two challengers in November, Amy Bavaro and Mark George. This year, trustees are running in a specific area for their seat, not for at-large positions.

The forum was sponsored by the League of Women Voters in cooperation with the Dent Parent Teacher Organization, the El Portal Parents Club and the Van Allen Parents Club.

With a good sized crowd in attendance, each candidate had an opportunity for an opening statement, giving a little information about themselves and why they wanted to serve. The evening was kept to a strict schedule, with candidates given a specific amount of time to answer questions and each having the opportunity to respond to each of the questions.

Bavaro described herself as an "advocate for our children" and has lived in the Escalon area 15 years.

"Parent involvement is crucial," she said, adding that she is "passionate about education" and feels her accounting degree will help her focus on school financing.

George, a fourth generation Escalon resident, went to school in Fresno and lived there for several years before coming back to Escalon.

"This is an opportunity to stay involved," he said of seeking the school board seat. "To learn and see what goes on behind the doors."

Alcorn, who has 12 years of service on the board and is also a fourth generation resident of Escalon, said she is "prepared to continue serving" and has one basic philosophy: "Do what is best for students."

Stanton said she graduated from Escalon High and has spent 25 years in public education. Serving on the board, she said "makes me proud to think I am part of the Escalon heritage." She has been on the board for 10 years and said her knowledge and experience would be "sprinkled with humanity" to work for the benefit of the students.

Coelho, who has lived in Escalon for 20 years, is an EHS graduate and runs an in home day care. With five children, three of them already in district schools, she said she would bring "a fresh perspective" for parents in the community.

"I love children and I want to represent their best interests," she said.

Questions were prepared by representatives from the sponsoring organizations and ranged from dealing with the challenges of school financing to balancing work responsibility with those of being on the school board. Areas including dealing with troublesome district employees was also a topic of discussion among the line of questions and candidates were queried on their knowledge of current educational issues.

Challengers said they have taken an interest in Escalon school issues specifically and are already thinking of ways to make money go farther and instruction serve students better. Incumbents also pointed to their knowledge and prior experience as giving them a good basis to start from with a new term.

League of Women Voters officials on hand kept the candidates on track and also commended those that turned out to learn more about them.

Look for a profile of each candidate, with more detailed answers from the forum, in the Oct. 10 issue of The Times.

Following all the questions at the Tuesday night forum, candidates had the chance to offer a closing statement and then candidates and the audience had a chance for informal visiting with refreshments.

Moderator for the evening was Vickie Markarian, from the League of Women Voters, San Joaquin County and serving as timer was league member Cate White.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6.