TURLOCK — Trustees for the Turlock Unified School District selected a familiar face for the board's vacant seat.
Tami Muniz, a four-year trustee who lost her re-election bid in November, will take the oath of office at tonight's regular board meeting.
Trustees unanimously voted Muniz, 42, into office during a special meeting Monday night after they interviewed four candidates for the vacancy. The open seat was created when Lori Crivelli resigned from her seat shortly after the November election, citing conflict of interest concerns.
The board interviewed David Folly, acquisitions director for Logitech; Mark Gharibian, an analyst for Gallo Winery; Eulalio Martinez, a construction industry labor representative; and Muniz, a customer service specialist for Foster Farms.
Trustees said all four were well-qualified for the job and impressive during interviews.
"I had a lot of anxiety before this meeting," board President Frank Lima said as the board prepared to vote. "I don't feel any better right now.
"There were very good responses from all of you, which just makes it that much more difficult for us."
In a reflection of the rocky economic climate, all of the candidates cited experience in budget reductions and finding ways to do more with less. For Gharibian and Folly, that meant looking for efficiencies and new processes. Martinez found health care at reduced rates for union members. Muniz cited her previous work on the board.
After each candidate answered four questions, board members ranked their choices. The top two vote-getters were Muniz and Gharibian. The board voted again and Muniz came away with the win.
"It was very close between the two of you," Lima said. He encouraged the other three to run for a seat in 2011, when five seats — including the one Muniz just got — will be open.
Lima pointed out that several board members started with the appointment process, and that not of all them made it to the board the first time.
"Four of us have been through this process," Trustee John Sims said. "Two of us were appointed. What I would echo is perseverance. If you're interested, run again in two years."
Lima pointed out that Sims' seat is up in two years, so he might be encouraging competition.
Though it wasn't intended that way, the board ended up making the move suggested by several speakers in recent meetings: Appoint the next-highest vote-getter from November's election.
Trustee Timm LaVelle came in behind Crivelli in that race, followed by Muniz. LaVelle did not submit his name for consideration for the open seat.
The Turlock Unified School District board of trustees meets at 5:30 p.m. today at the Turlock High School Performing Arts Building, 1600 E. Canal Drive.
Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2343.