In elections involving members of the Fontana School Board, two powerful forces are on opposite sides:
â¢ Unions representing Fontana Unified School District employees;
â¢ Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren.
On Nov. 8, Warren claimed one victory when the candidate she supported in Governing Board Area 2, incumbent Adam Perez, achieved his second four-year term by defeating his challenger, Shelley C-Bradford.
However, the FUSDâs union leadership was pleased to be on the side of the winning candidates in the other two races:
â¢ In Governing Board Area 1, Marcelino âMarsâ Serna earned his second full term by defeating three challengers â Lauren M. Gomez, Terry McCaffrey, and Maria Isabel Arias. Gomez had been the candidate endorsed by Warren.
â¢ In Governing Board Area 5, Mary B. Sandoval attained her third term with a win over Rayman Martinez, who had been endorsed by Warren.
Serna and Sandoval prevailed by comfortable margins despite severe negative advertising by opponents.
As a result, union-supported candidates narrowly remain in control of the School Board by a 3-2 margin. The other two board members, who will be up for reelection in 2024, are Jennifer Quezada (who was endorsed by the unions two years ago) and Joe Armendarez (endorsed by Warren).
In recent Facebook posts, Serna said he was grateful and honored to be reelected.
âTo those who didnât vote for me, I hope that we can work through any differences in a collaborative way that serves in the best interest of our scholars,â Serna said. âWe have done some amazing things as a collective board, but we have much work to still be done.â
However, he said he was appalled by the ânonsenseâ that was thrown his way from the unnamed individuals who opposed him.
âI never thought that a school board race could be so contentious and disrespectful,â he said.
He said there were âlocal PACs spending big money and keeping the USPS busy with nasty and vile mailers.â
Serna said he was able to withstand the âhatersâ thanks to the dedication of his wife, Marissa.
Connie Verhulst, the president of the Fontana Teachers Association, praised both Serna and Sandoval.
âMars and Mary are committed to doing whatâs best for scholars, families, FUSD employees, and the community,â Verhulst said in a letter to the Herald News.
Dawn Dooley, the president of USW Local 8599 (representing classified employees in the district), said on Facebook that Serna and Sandoval âsupport our union values.â
—– OVER THE past two decades, Warren has become one of the most dominant politicians in Fontanaâs history, starting out as a City Council member in 2002 before being elected mayor in 2010. As mayor, she has used her influence to be heavily involved in promoting her favored candidates on the School Board, sometimes successfully.
In this yearâs mayoral race, Warren defeated City Councilmember Jesus (âJesseâ) Sandoval (the husband of Mary Sandoval) and Shannon OâBrien, a former member of the School Board.
But Warrenâs two favored School Board candidates this year were running for the first time and did not have much name recognition.
Voter turnout in Fontana was relatively low. All of the incumbents in both the city and school races received a smaller number of votes than they did in the 2018 election.
âEveryone knows how much I value the education of our students,â Warren said in a Facebook post prior to the election. âDuring the last two years our students have fallen behind in reading, math and writing. Itâs time we change the direction of the Fontana School District and elect Board Members that will make our children a priority.â