GUSTINE - School board candidate Dennis Brazil said experience is the strong suit he will bring to the Gustine’ Unified School District’s governing board if elected.
He is running against Zachery Ramos for the Area 3 school board seat currently held by Pat Rocha, who did not seek re-election.
Brazil previously served as Gustine mayor for six years, is currently on the West Side Community Healthcare District Board of Directors and will be returning to municipal government when he joins the Gustine City Council.
Brazil said he became interested in running for school board while serving on the Measure P Bond Oversight Committee, during which time he became concerned about some of the workings of the district.
An effective school board member need not have direct ties to or a background in education, Brazil said, but “must have a vision for the district.”
Brazil said his priorities for the district would include conducting a thorough review of the district “to find out what is working and what is not working,” working to ensure budget stability through the challenging times and strengthening the relationship between the district and its employee groups.
When it comes to facilities, Brazil commented, his priorities would be to continue upgrading the campus at Gustine High, particularly the aging infrastructure, and evaluating potential uses of the old middle school and its gymnasium.
Brazil said he would support a bond measure to help the district meet its facility needs, but emphasized the importance of full transparency and delivering precisely the projects promised to the taxpayers.
“I think they still need to work on building back community trust from the last (bond) episode,” Brazil reflected. “When you have a strong board working for the kids, staff and faculty and the public sees that, passing bonds becomes pretty easy because they have the trust (in the district).”
Brazil, 62, is a semi-retired operations manager in the food industry.
He said that his business and governmental experience are among his strongest qualifications to serve on the board.
Stability and consistency in leadership are critical for the district, Brazil emphasized.
“It all starts at the board level in setting the goals for the district. If you have good, experienced board members that is the most critical part. It starts right there,” he remarked. “It needs to be run like a business. It is a business that belongs to the people, the students, the faculty and staff. When you run it like a business, there is no issue.”
If Brazil is elected, the state attorney general’s office will conduct a review to determine if serving on the school board is compatible with also serving on the local ambulance board and City Council. He is one of two candidates running for two council seats.
Brazil said he does not see a significant conflict in those roles. Few items cross over between the various agencies, he said, and in the event of an agenda item that would present a conflict he would simply recuse himself.
“When you are a good public servant for any position you are elected to your job is to conduct yourself in an appropriate manner,” Brazil stated.
If elected, Brazil pledged, he would work for the betterment of the district as a whole and all its stakeholders.
“Our job is not to be teachers; our job is not to be the superintendent,” Brazil said of the board role. “Our job is to make sure the workings of the district are running smoothly and according to the plan the board has put together for the district. When you are an elected official, your job is to work for everyone.”