Two students are set to join the Merced City School District board after Tuesday's elections.
Adam Cox, enrolled at Merced College, and Jessica Kazakos, a graduate student, are running unopposed for two seats on the board.
The third seat, a position which represents voters in trustee area one, is contested.
Darrell Cherf, a Merced High math teacher and current board member, or Cornelio "C.G." Soza, who runs several businesses in town, will represent voters in the vast district that includes most north Merced neighborhoods. If re-elected, Cherf said he would be chiefly concerned with the district's finances.
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"Money is always an issue. I don't think that issue is ever going to go away," he said.
A board member for eight years, he wants to make sure that the district does not deficit-spend.
"I still think that we need to continue to look at building the new schools," Cherf said. "We definitely need to get a school over in the Loughborough area and we need to look at future sites as well. I know were in a lull right now, but I don't think that's going to stay that way forever."
Cherf said he was most proud to have been on the board during a time when equity among the various employee groups. Contract negotiations used to result in drastically different contracts for separate groups, but now the negotiations are treated as one larger process, he said. "We definitely have more equity in the city school district now than we used to," he said.
Soza, the owner of two Subway franchises and Baby's Again, is a Merced High School graduate.
He agrees that finances will be the issue of the times if he is elected.
"With the budget cuts we've been getting from Sacramento, I think the board needs to take more responsibility with what little money we have to make sure that every dollar goes as far as it can," he said.
Soza's qualifications for the job include "being married to a teacher, for one," he joked.
On a more serious note, he said his business background would help with the budgeting process.
A first-time candidate for the board, Soza is endorsed by the Merced City Teachers Association.
"That shows that I'm on the right track with the teachers and the classified employees supporting me," he said.
Reporter Danielle E. Gaines can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.