There are four candidates running for three openings on the Ballico-Cressey School District board.
Dickey is not a current member of the school board. Elections office documents say she works as a dental hygienist and pulled candidacy paperwork on July 30.
“I would rather decline to comment at this time,” Dickey said when reached by phone for an interview request.
Nairn, 36, was born and raised in Merced County. She has three children, two of them currently in schools at the district. An incumbent, she has served one term on the board.
Nairn said her tenure in the community was a primary qualification for election to the board. “I’m familiar with the community and the spirit of the community and the spirit of the district.”
Nairn described the school district’s culture as “close-knit, with a high priority on the extras.”
“Reading and writing are critically important, but we pay attention to the cultural value of the schools too,” she said. “Our district is a pillar in our community.”
She said the biggest issue the new school board will face is “survival of the economic situation.”
“I think we’ve done really well so far. I think we’ve been fiscally responsible,” she said. “But I think that even schools that are fiscally sound are going to have to tighten the belt.”
Nishihara-Dunford, 47, is an instructor in the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department. She started school at Ballico School and graduate from Livingston High School. She has an associates degree from Merced College and studied human resources and law enforcement at a four-year university.
Nishihara-Dunford decided to run for the school board because “I felt that it was important to have a voice in my child's education and to help shape the future of our community through our children,” she said.
She listed her extensive work in law enforcement instruction as a qualification for the board position. She has been an instructor for the California Highway Patrol, Modesto Junior College, San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, and the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department.
“Part of my duties with the Sheriff's Department also involved budgeting and developing curriculum for specific classes and disciplines,” she said. “I currently handle the financial planning for our farm operation for the last 10 years.”
Fiscal planning will be the biggest issue for the school district in the next four years, she said.
Paul Van Warmerdam
Van Warmerdam is a current board member and dairy farmer.
When reached, Van Warmerdam set up an interview time for later, but did not return subsequent phone calls.
Reporter Danielle E. Gaines can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.