Women’s slate on target for victory on Riverbank school board

jnsbranti@modbee.comNovember 5, 2013 

— Three candidates – Elizabeth Meza, Suzanne Dean and Susan Taylor – who campaigned as a slate all appeared headed to victory for the Riverbank Unified School District board in early results. Three trustee seats are up for grabs, with five candidates on the ballot.

Candidates Charles Neal and Patrick Hagan are aligned with current school board trustees John Mitchell and Steve Walker. Mitchell and Walker frequently have been on the losing side of 3-2 splits in board votes, but that could have changed were Neal or Hagan elected.

“Either way, our district has to move forward,” Meza said. She said there has been an unprofessional atmosphere at school board meetings the last couple of years, which “has not been in the best interest of our students.”

Tuesday night, Taylor was the leading candidate, with 29 percent of the vote. Dean had 21 percent, and Meza was a close third with 20 percent. Neal had 17 percent, and Hagan 13 percent.

The women’s campaign was focused on individual contacts with voters. “We went to every house that had registered voters who had voted in elections the last five years,” said Dean, noting that she, Meza and Taylor coordinated efforts.

But the women promised to serve as individuals. “We’re all very different people,” said Dean, 51, who called herself an extreme conservative. She is Ceres’ deputy finance director, and she has an accounting background. Meza, 36, is a Stanislaus County probation corrections officer who has been on the board since 2009. Taylor, 62, is a retired educator who had been a teacher, principal and assistant superintendent for educational services for the Riverbank district.

Neal, 72, is a retired heavy construction foreman and former City Council member. Hagan, 45, is a home health care provider and a newcomer to Riverbank politics.

Bee staff writer J.N. Sbranti can be reached at (209) 578-2196.

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