DJUSD Candidate Pool Swells to Eight But Fernandes Still Unopposed

Alan Fernandes is Sworn-in by Board President Gina Daleiden in May
Alan Fernandes is Sworn In by Board President Gina Daleiden in May

The number of candidates has swollen to eight for four DJUSD School Board seats, but Alan Fernandes remains the only candidate for the two-year seat to which he was appointed in May. That appointment filled the spot vacated in March when Nancy Peterson abruptly resigned as fallout of the volleyball scandal.

In the past seven days Tom Adams and Jose Granda, who had applied to fill that vacancy, have filed for a four-year seat and, on Wednesday, Mike Nolan added his name. He had not applied to fill the vacancy but was a school board candidate back in 2010, challenging the three incumbents Tim Taylor, Sheila Allen and Gina Daleiden, who are now all vacating their spots.

The new applicants join Barbara Archer, Bob Poppenga, Madhavi Sunder and Chuck Rairdan who had previously announced.

Tom Adams told the Vanguard he is presently on vacation and will return to Davis on Monday. He fell just short of making the finalist list in May, drawing two votes, and was one of only four candidates drawing votes for the appointment.

Jose Granda did not immediately respond to a Vanguard request for announcement information. However, in April, he sent a press release which we include below.

Nolan Announces Bid For School Trustee

Veteran school parent Mike Nolan announced today that he would seek a seat for the Davis School Board.

“The unprecedented resignation and retirement of four Trustees in the last five months makes experience in the school district matters imperative,” he said. “As a parent in the school district for the last 15 years, whose two older children have attended Davis schools from the Davis Parent Nursery School through to Davis High graduation, I can offer a pre-kindergarten through graduation perspective on the operation of our schools.” Nolan has two other children, one who will graduate from Davis High this year, while the youngest is a 9th grader at Emerson Jr. High.

Nolan added, “ Unlike most other school districts that operate with bare majorities, the Davis school District depends on a super-majority community consensus to fund our schools and programs. That consensus is based on a level of mutual trust between between the School board and the public. With the volleyball controversy earlier this year, as well as last year’s forgery of parent names and comments on a petition to the Board, that trust has been shaken. As a school Trustee, I offer a ‘no drama,’ no hidden agenda, focus on local education for all of our children. We can’t afford another school board meltdown.”

Nolan served as PTA President at Willett Elementary School, and served on that school’s Positive Climate Committee. He was also elected to that school’s Site Council and served for six years. As Chair of the site council he was responsible, with the school’s Principal, Nancy Medbery, to work with the other council members of parents, teachers, and staff, to draft the school’s improvement plan and budget funds as required under state law.

Nolan also served on the Emerson/Da Vinci PTA Board, and Site Council.

Nolan was also a five-year member of the Superintendent’s Parent Advisory Committee, serving under the last four superintendents, which met monthly to discuss the District’s budget, school finance, and an array of other issues affecting every school and program.

In addition, Nolan has been actively involved in Davis AYSO soccer, and Davis Little League, where all four of his children have played. His son, Tom Nolan, was an all-league varsity soccer player at Davis Senior High School.

Nolan is married to Kathleen Keeshen, who currently is the General Counsel for Covered California, the California Health Benefit Exchange under the Affordable Care Act. In 2013 she was named by the legal newspaper, The Daily Journal, as one of the 100 top women lawyers in California. They and their children live in the rural area outside the Davis city limits.

A native of San Luis Obispo, Nolan attended Cal Poly and received his BA degree in history from the University of San Francisco. He later obtained attended Western State University in San Diego, and was admitted to practice law in 1983.

Nolan is endorsed by the Davis Teacher’s Association. After that endorsement, Nolan stated, “It is quite an honor to be endorsed by the teachers of the District. But what has touched me the most is the personal support offered by the current and retired classroom teachers who taught my kids.”

Nolan’s campaign is currently building their website,

Community Leaders Unite to Elect Madhavi Sunder to School Board

With the approach of the school year, Madhavi Sunder’s campaign meetings have grown more frequent and more energized. Malia McCarthy is co-leading their steering committee as campaign manager alongside Sarah Heringer. Grace Salvagno continues as Treasurer and Mario Salvagno as Deputy Campaign Manager.

Seasoned Davis political advisors Nichole Arnold, Will Arnold, Diana Glick, Daniel Parella and Neil Ruud are also joining Sunder’s Steering Committee in what the campaign has been referring to as “Phase 2.”

“I’m very excited to have both first time and experienced political leaders volunteering on the campaign,” says Sunder. “It’s invigorating to see families taking action to tackle the issues facing our schools today and in the future.”

The campaign has also announced new endorsements from Yolo County Supervisor Don Saylor, City Council Member Brett Lee, Yolo County Superintendent of Schools-Elect Jesse Ortiz, DJUSD Trustee Gina Daleiden, former Mayor Maynard Skinner, Former City Council Member Stephen Souza, and recent past president of the Davis Senior High School PTA Sally Albertson, among others.

“I believe that Madhavi will make an excellent school board member for our community. She is smart, energetic and she is ready to take on the real challenges our school system faces,” says City Councilmember Brett Lee.

A daughter of immigrants, Madhavi attended public schools before graduating magna cum laude from Harvard. She earned her J.D. degree at Stanford Law School, after which she practiced law in New York City, before returning to California to work for a federal appellate judge in Los Angeles. A Professor of Law at UC Davis since 1999, Madhavi has been a longtime active member of the Davis community. She was a parent volunteer at Chavez Elementary, was a classroom representative on the Korematsu PTO, was a volunteer AYSO soccer coach, and most recently was a member of the school district’s Strategic Planning Committee action team focusing on supporting the ‘whole child.’

Anyone interested in learning more about Madhavi can follow her at and at, where a full list of endorsements can be found.

Granda Enters the Race For School Board (from April)

Jose Granda, an Engineering Professor at CSUS and a 36-year resident of Davis, filed this morning an application to become a candidate for appointment to the Davis School Board to fill one of the open vacancies.   He is following a promise he made in 2012 to the 6,181 Davis voters who supported his candidacy for school board and to the 9,253 Davis voters that voted with him in opposing Measure E.  He stated at the time, “I will be back” and, true to his word, here he is.  “I have been in education my entire career.  I believe in excellence in education with fiscal responsibility to the taxpayers”  stated Jose in a press release.

“I have been an Engineering Professor for 32 years with vast experience on what it takes to teach a child to succeed.  I have a lot to contribute.  The School Board needs a change in diversity of opinions to make independent decisions in the public interest.  If they select one that thinks like them, backed by the same special interest groups, there is no hope, nothing will change.  This is critical at the time the public trust in the School Board is at an all-time low with conflicts of interest and a dismal record in management of the taxpayer’s resources.  New leadership is needed.  The School Board needs a fresh start. I hope to make a contribution towards changing the culture of deficits and endless local parcel tax measures,” said Jose Granda.

“My vision is influenced by the priorities I see.  Undivided commitment to the children’s excellency in education, undivided commitment to financial responsibility to the taxpayers, commitment to high-tech education.    Teaching with technology should be available for teachers and learning with technology should be available to all students,” said Granda.

Granda continued, “Priority to foreign languages.  In a global economy this is a must in the basic education of a child. I believe foreign languages such as German, Chinese, Spanish and French are a necessity in a child’s education.  Commitment to turning Davis School District into a model high tech educational district.

“Priority to prepare students in STEM careers.  Science, Technology, Engineering and Math opportunities should be offered to every child in this district. Flexibility to innovation and change.  Be receptive to new ideas and to change the status quo.”

Granda summarized his vision to these points:

  • I believe education is the key to life success.
  • I believe that Board members should be independent thinkers and independent researchers to be able to make fair and accurate decisions.  This may be questioning or not agreeing with staff.
  • A Board member cannot do everything. One must concentrate on what one can contribute so here are my thoughts as it applies to me.  My contribution would be to high tech with science and engineering in mind.
  • I believe the spark of engineering and science career starts by the age of 10.  That is elementary school.  For that reason, I have conducted regularly motivational talks with children in elementary and high schools.  I have done this whether at schools or in the wilderness.   I was the first in California to implement the Robotics Merit Badge for the Boy Scouts. During Engineering Week at UC Davis, I participated as a speaker and counselor for the Engineering Merit Badge, an event in which 54 Davis boys scouts participated. The objective of his talks to children and young adults in high schools is to motivate them and encourage them to enter STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers when they reach the University.
  • I believe that women deserve the same educational opportunities as men. Through my research grants, I have supported girls science groups, robotics clubs made of all high school girls.
  • While science and engineering provide youngsters with a bright future, not everyone will become an engineer or a scientist.   For this reason Vocational Education has to be an integral part of the Davis School system to better serve the community and provide a future to youngsters with other skills.

Finally, on the issue of conflict of interest, Jose is clear.  “When a conflict of interest occurs, the board member must inform the other board members of that and excuse himself/herself from voting or participating on an issue that has personal interest mixed with your position as an elected official.   We have more than one official in Yolo County that will benefit from this advice,” concluded Granda.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Davis Progressive

    why did 7 people go for the open seat, but no one went for fernandes’ seat. granda has no chance to win anyway, he should have at least challenged fernandes to make sure he didn’t get a free ride. so much for granda’s shtick.

  2. wdf1

    Finally, on the issue of conflict of interest, Jose is clear. “When a conflict of interest occurs, the board member must inform the other board members of that and excuse himself/herself from voting or participating on an issue that has personal interest mixed with your position as an elected official. We have more than one official in Yolo County that will benefit from this advice,” concluded Granda.

    I think Granda should clarify if and how his position on conflict of interest might apply to him. He is affiliated with an organization that opposes parcel taxes, and the district will be discussing school parcel taxes during the span of the term he is running for, so it is a valid issue.

          1. wdf1

            Granda: “When a conflict of interest occurs, the board member must inform the other board members of that and excuse himself/herself from voting or participating on an issue that has personal interest mixed with your position as an elected official.”

            What does he mean by “personal interest” then?

          2. Davis Progressive

            i assume he means like nancy peterson acting on behalf of her daughter and her own personal feud rather than in the interests of the public.

  3. Tia Will


    I see this rather like running for City Council while having a law suit against the city. Yes, I think this represents a conflict of interest . And it is economic even if not related to one’s personal finances.

    Or to soften my position just a bit. I would see it very differently if Mr. Granda had offered in the past or was now offering feasible options for raising the same amount of money as a parcel tax would provide. Opposing parcel taxes without offering realistic alternatives is tantamount to saying that you oppose more resources for the schools which I find a very peculiar position for someone interested in a position on the school board at a time of demonstrated need.

    1. Davis Progressive

      and then you end up with only one type of people on a given body and while i don’t hold granda particularly in high esteem, i wouldn’t want to preclude him from serving.

      1. wdf1

        Personally I don’t hold Granda in particularly high esteem as a candidate because he doesn’t seem to understand school district budgeting in a way that makes his fiscal position clear. For instance, in his last school district campaign, he used the listed salary schedule for teachers as the total cost to the district for employing teachers, ignoring the fact that there is about an extra 50% in benefits (health, dental, retirement, anything else) that isn’t listed as salary. In ignoring the cost of employee benefits, he said that amount of money (the extra 50%) was being wasted, and I think (absent further clarification from him) that’s where he comes up with his statement that the district has a “dismal record in management of the taxpayer’s resources”.

        At another point, as Ms. Will mentions, he seemed to acknowledge the need for money that the school parcel taxes bring, but said that instead of parcel taxes, schools should be raising that money as part of a big districtwide fundraiser. This ignored the fact that school were already doing extra fundraising to cover other things cut from the district budget. And many school PTO’s felt like they weren’t meeting (or only struggling to make) their fundraising goals.

        He maybe a college professor in engineering, and I can begin to get that he might understand something about pedagogy and the classroom experience, but he doesn’t appear to be humble enough to ask questions to understand better about fiscal management of an educational system. In a blog post a few weeks ago I commented that I cringe when I hear a school board candidate lead too much with “I’m a college professor” as a principal qualification for his (or her) candidacy. Granda was the specific example I had in mind.

        1. David Greenwald

          He tried to run an anti-tax campaign against the city and he was using all-funds balance to suggest that the city was flush in money. He just doesn’t understand financing and when I tried to explain it to him, he showed little interest in learning.

  4. wdf1

    Vanguard: In the past seven days Tom Adams and Jose Granda, who had applied to fill that vacancy, have filed for a four-year seat…

    Originally Tom Adams was leaning to run for the 2-year seat. source

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