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FRESNO, CA—As the November 2018 mid-term elections come to a close, some candidates are trying to figure out why they lost, while winning candidates are overjoyed and pleased with their campaign efforts and final results. Nevertheless, locally, there were some historical wins for candidates of color to be noted, as well as acknowledging the influence of a well-known Black political consultant.
Tapscott Munson's historic win
New Fresno County Office of Education Board Trustee Area 1, Kimberly Tapscott-Munson, made history this election as the first woman of color representative. Tapscott-Munson has a background in education, serving as a Fresno Unified School District school librarian for over 20 years. After the Dec. 6 final official count, Tapscott-Munson won with 12,253 votes against opponents Randy Rocca, trailing a distant second by over 3,291 votes, Michelle Arvance and Richard Martinez.
“I would like to say thank you to all of my supporters,” said Tapscott-Munson. “I look forward to a working
relationship will all representatives in 2019 for the betterment of all our students in Fresno County. I would like to thank all of my opponents for running a clean campaign.” Hashtag: #KimberlyCaresAboutTheKids!
According to their website, as a whole, The Fresno County Board of Education (County Board), consisting of five elected board members, performs functions relative to the county office of education, the school districts within Fresno County, and the community. The County Board, working with the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools (County Superintendent), provides school facilities and an environment that is conducive to learning and growth for students enrolled in county office of education schools and programs. They are also responsible for fixing the salary of the County Superintendent, approving the County Superintendent’s budgets, and approving the Local Control Accountability Plan for the juvenile court schools.
The County Board is an important forum for appeals on student inter-district transfers, student expulsions, and charter school petitions.
Board Members are often found attending school graduations, engaging in civic events, participating in educational programs, and supporting community activities.
Her campaign consultant, The Honorable Cynthia Sterling, who served two terms as councilwoman for Fresno’s district 3, said Tapscott-Munson would be an asset to the Fresno County Board of Education because of her educational knowledge base and ability to learn quickly:
“First she (Tapscott-Munson ) will have access to all of the budgets within the 32 school districts in Fresno County. She will be able to work with the board of supervisors and all the county administrators. I am really proud of Kimberly, and look forward to her doing great things while serving in this seat.”
Sterling is also the president of Black Women Organized for Political Action (BWOPA) in which Tapscott-Munson is also a member.
In fact, another BWOPA member, Keshia Thomas, made a clear win for the Fresno Unified School District Board of Directors seat, Area 1, formerly held by Cal Johnson, winning over 1,200 votes more than her opponent, Robert Fuentes who was endorsed by the FTA.
"Keshia is one of our community children who had grown up to become a professional educator and leader in the community," said sterling. "and we are looking forward to working with her on the FUSD Board of trustees. Both Kimberly and Keshia are BWOPA sisters."
Diverse people of color holding more seats locally and statewide
A shocking win that caused an upset for incumbent Andy Vidak who represented the 14th Senate District for several terms will now be held by Melissa Hurtado.
Hurtado, the daughter of immigrant parents and the first in her family to graduate from college and who grew up in the Valley officially became California’s youngest state legislator at 30 years-old.
"Melissa Hurtado understood collaboration throughout her entire geographical surroundings," said Sterling who also did some consulting for Hurtado. "and she knew that a ground campaign of all ethnic group was extremely important. And it was a privilege to be a part of her campaign team. She will make a great California senator."
New city of Fresno district 3 councilman Miguel Arias is ready to hit the ground running over the next four years, disrupting the 'business as usual" outlook for his constituents; his veteran knowledge in politics, city government and economics will give him the advantage to fix such ignored discrepancies.
Incumbent Luis Chavez will also serve another term as Fresno City Council District 7 councilman.
Democrat Anna Caballero won the race for the Senate District 12 against well-known Republican Rob Poythres.
Dr. Joaquin Arambula will continue to represent the 31st Assembly District in the Central Valley.
The next generation coming in politically fierce and knowledgeable
There are also some local wins that suggest a new, young, political generation, ready to start early enough to learn the ropes with years to come.
State Center Community College District Trustee Area 5 Annalisa Perea represents another part of the next generation like Hurtado; the 31-year-old comes from a family meshed in politics for generations. As the daughter of Henry R. Perea who held the Fresno City Council District 7 seat and served on the Fresno County Board of Education and the Fresno County Board of Supervisors, she is also the sister of Henry T. Perea who held the Fresno City Council District 7 seat and served as a state Assemblyman from 2010-2015 before quitting mid-term to become a lobbyist. Either way, the seemingly modest Annalisa Perea had access to a slew of political advice to help her campaign--and she won.
Finally, there is one other very noticeable win that certainly should be acknowledged: Fresno City Council District 5 seat was won by young, African-American and Latino 28 year-old, Nelson Esparza. Although he will be considered the youngest serving with the other city council members over the next four years, Esparza's wealth of knowledge in economics and public policy makes him a true gem to the Fresno City Council. Esparza's background includes a Master of Public Policy degree from UCLA, a bachelor's degree in economics from UC Riverside, and a Public Policy & International Affairs Certification from UC Berkeley. Esparza has also served as an economics professor in State Center Community College District for a number of years.