One of the biggest political fund-raisers this fall comes from one of Stanislaus County's smaller cities.
Diane Gilbert, a candidate for the Oakdale Unified School District Board of Trustees, has banked $24,440 for her campaign.
She loaned herself an additional $5,000, giving her about $21,000 more than her three opponents combined.
Gilbert's fund raising for a seat that oversees the 5,200-student Oakdale district would put her among the leaders in the nine-way race for the Modesto City Schools District Board of Education, which is responsible for more than 30,000 students.
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Attorney Ruben Villalobos is the top earner in the Modesto race, having raised $36,868, at least $20,000 of which has come from the Modesto Teachers Association in cash or nonmonetary contributions.
Gilbert, a professional fund-raising consultant, is the only challenger in the Oakdale school board's four-way race for three seats.
Among the incumbents, Rick Jones has loaned himself $4,800 for his campaign and William Dyer has raised $1,819 in small contributions. Mike House has filed paperwork saying he intends to spend less than $1,000 on his campaign.
Much of Gilbert's support comes from Central Valley and Southern California Republican lawmakers. She received $5,000 from former Republican state Senate leader Jim Brulte, whose district covered Riverside and San Bernardino counties; $1,000 from state Sen. Dave Cogdill, R-Modesto; $1,000 from state Sen. Mark Wyland, R-Escondido; $1,000 from San Bernardino County Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt; $1,000 from San Bernardino County Supervisor Josie Gonzales, and $500 from Assemblyman Bill Berryhill, R-Ceres.
Closer to home, Gilbert picked up 18 contributions valued at $100 to $200 from Stanislaus County residents and businesses.
"I'm just thankful that I've gotten so much support from people who I have known for a number of years," said Gilbert, a former legislative staffer who has run her own company for 17 years.
Bee assistant city editor Adam Ashton can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2366.