Los Banos school board member fights against recall

Los Banos Unified School District Board member John Mueller talks about the proposed junior high school during the Feb. 12, 2015, board meeting.
Los Banos Unified School District Board member John Mueller talks about the proposed junior high school during the Feb. 12, 2015, board meeting.

A former firefighter likely will take John Mueller’s place on the Los Banos Unified School District Board if residents of his district vote to recall Mueller on Aug. 23.

That former firefighter is Los Banos resident Ray Martinez, who has previously run for the Los Banos City Council. Martinez previously has confirmed his intention to seek election to the board.

The special election on a recall of Mueller is set for Aug. 23, according to the Merced County Registrar of Voters Office.

The election will ask voters who live in Mueller’s trustee area of District 7 two questions. The first question will ask if Mueller should be recalled from his position as District 7 trustee on the school board.

If a majority of residents vote against recalling Mueller, the election will end and Mueller will remain on the school board.

If they vote to force him out of office, residents will be asked to vote for a candidate to take his place. The only candidate who filed to run is Martinez, making him the presumptive school board member should Mueller be recalled successfully.

Mueller will not be on the ballot for the second question, since the first question is essentially a referendum against him continuing on the board, Assistant Registrar of Voters David Sullivan said.

“In that case, (Martinez) would be it as long as he gets the majority of the votes,” Sullivan said.

Mueller officially was served a notice of recall in December by resident Baldo Salcido, who is part of a group called Community Advocacy Coalition.

The notice cites six reasons for the recall, including poor school test scores, and claims that Mueller refuses to communicate with his constituents and condones nepotism.

Mueller responded to the notice 10 days later, noting that his contact information was readily available to anyone. He claimed he met with the CAC, but they were upset he didn’t agree with their views. And he said he supports hiring the best person for the job regardless of family connections.

District 7 of the school board encompasses the entire southern portion of the school district, including most of the area south of Highway 152 bounded by Britto Road to the east and the southeast and southwest borders of the county. It includes the area around San Luis Reservoir.

Mueller said he plans to go door to door campaigning against the recall in the large district.

“If they do vote it down, it is because people that know me in Los Banos know that I’m an upstanding guy that speaks the best for the students, not for interest groups,” Mueller said.

Mueller accused the CAC, which advocates for greater diversity in government and education, of trying to circumvent the election process with a recall, after he beat out a candidate he says was supported by the CAC in the 2014 elections.

Martinez wasn’t available for comment Tuesday.

Martinez is a former fire captain for the Santa Clara Fire Department, according to campaign information for his 2014 bid for a City Council seat.