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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2366.