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Candidates after more than one office in Keyes
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Keyes voters will be seeing double - even triple - on the Nov. 6 ballot. That's because:

• Harinder Grewal is seeking seats on three separate boards;

• William Henry Alexander wants to serve on two boards;

• Henry Benavides is a candidate for seats on two separate boards.

All three have committed to serve on all the boards they are elected to, if voters don't see a problem with it.

Some wonder if the voters would be shortchanged to have one person wear too many hats in the same town. At least one official in Keyes - who did not want to go on record - wonders if attention will be diluted among different agencies.

When Tony Aguilar became a member of the Keyes School Board in recent years, he resigned from his seat on the Keyes Community Services District, even though it was legal to serve on both.

There is no law against serving on more than one board, County Counsel has advised, but conflicts could arise. Board members must legally recuse themselves if there is a conflict between the board positions represented.

Davie Landers has had no problems sitting on both the Keyes MAC and KCSD board, said Rosemary Winter, secretary to the KCSD board. She said she can't recall a time when Landers had to recuse himself because of conflicts.

"It's never been an issue," said Winter.

Still, she has been frequently approached by citizens with concerns. "Some people come up and say, 'Isn't that a conflict of interest? Isn't that a conflict of interest?"

Election Department officials checked into the matter when they saw the three Keyes candidates line up for more than one office.

Alexander, too, consulted with Stewart James, the Keyes Community Services District's attorney and that there is nothing illegal about serving double-duty.

"It came up in my mind. He (Stewart) said there will be times when serving on the Community Services District that I will have to abstain from voting and vice versa."

Multiple candidacies are unavoidable in Keyes, noted Winter.

"Because this is such a small town and so few interested people... sometimes you have to go out and look for people to sit on your board. You literally have to recruit."

Recruiting had to take place in past years when Brian Osburn and Joe Rosas left the KCSD boundaries and had to resign, she said.

Benavides had a similar take on the issue: "In a small community like ours where people want to be involved sometimes they have to wear many different hats," said Benavides. "We checked into it and County Counsel doesn't have a problem with it."

California State University, Stanislaus professor Larry Giventer said it's not common that an individual run for more than one office at a time with the promise of taking only one if elected. He said anyone serving on more than one elected body in a community would have to be careful in avoiding conflicts of interest.

"I guess the gentlemen have a yen for public service," commented Giventer.

He said there may be times when a board member has to abstain from voting on issues that clash with another district they represent.

A similar example of abstaining occurred when Melody Kent, an employee of Keyes School, felt it was a conflict to cast a particular vote on the KCSD board which dealt with the school.

A board member on the KCSD board would have to recuse themselves from deciding matters affecting finances or providing services of the school, if he or she served on both.

Most agree there would be less conflicts affecting the Keyes MAC, which only an advisory panel.

Giventer said there was a national case in which a senator sought re-election to his seat and vice president at the same time. But the candidate also agreed to resign the Senate is elected vice president.

"It's kind of unusual at the local government level."


Grewal, who is employed as a county agricultural inspector, is a the ballot for a seat on the Keyes School Board, Keyes Municipal Advisory Council (MAC) and Keyes Community Services District (KCSD). He said if elected, he will serve on all three boards.

Grewal, 42, has lived in Keyes since November 2005. He said his daughter attends Modesto High School and his son attends Salida Middle School. Grewal said his son doesn't attend Spratling Middle School because afterschool care is critical.

"That is something I would like to see in Keyes schools, too," said Grewal.

Keyes did, however, add an afterschool program last year.

Grewal has others irons in the fire. He serves as chairman of the Modesto City Equal Opportunity Commission, also treasurer of the local chapter of AFSCME (American Federation of State County Municipal Employees.) Grewal also is in his second term as president of the California Association of Standards and Agricultural Professionals.

Alexander, 51, a retired home renovator, is seeking a seat on both the MAC and KCSD boards. He, too, said he plans to serve on both boards if elected. The 30-year resident of Keyes said "I think I could be an asset to the community of Keyes on two different boards.

"I've been on the MAC board four years this November and I don't feel I'm biting off more than I can chew."

Benavides, a Keyes resident since 1976, feels he will have the time to serve on both boards if elected.

"My work schedule is flexible enough to where I can go to meetings. I work nights.... I can trade out shifts and attend special meetings and go to classes and such."

Benavides, 42, an EMT with AMR Ambulance and a volunteer firefighter, is running for the short-term seat on the Keyes School Board now occupied by board President Marianne Pietryzk. He is also a candidate for the four-year term on the Keyes MAC.

Benavides has a child attending Pitman High School in Turlock and a newborn son.

Three seats on the Keyes MAC are expiring, presently occupied by Alexander, Davie Landers Jr. and Jeff Reed. Candidates are Alexander, Benavides, Grewal and Landers.

Three seats are open on the School Board, including the four-year terms of Sandra Marchant and Bob Edwards and the two-year term of Marianne Pietrzyk. Benavides is seeking Pietrzyk's seat. Pietrzyk, a former Ceres Courier columnist, is the mother of Keyes student.

Alexander and Grewal are running for seats on the KCSD now occupied by Sidney Moon and Curtis Snell.

The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors has jurisdiction over Keyes, an unincorporated town of 5,500. But its sewer and water service is provided through an Community Services District, which is governed by an elected board. While supervisors ultimately make decisions affecting Keyes, the town elects members to the MAC, which acts only in an advisory capacity to the Board of Supervisors.

Alexander said the MAC board is trying to further drive down the crime rate in Keyes.

"When I first moved here in 1977 there was no sheriff, there was no highway patrol in Keyes. When they did come in they would come in in force. In 1992 the Sheriff's substation came in and the auto thefts and burglaries dropped way down. We're trying to eliminate crime complete out of Keyes. I know that's an impossibility."

He said the county is making plans to install new drainage, curb, gutter, sidewalk and new roads in Keyes within five to 10 years.

"It's progressing but slowly," he said.