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Whopping support for library tax
Voters of Stanislaus County overwhelmingly supported Measure S last week to fund library services, such as here at the Ceres Library. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/ Courier file photo

Preliminary results from the Stanislaus County Consolidated District Election showed that voters overwhelmingly supported the countywide renewal of Measure S.

As of Tuesday morning, about 48,817 of Stanislaus County's 238,666 registered voters had submitted their ballots for the odd-year election - just 20.45 percent of those registered to vote.

With all of the precinct votes counted, 82.19 percent of voters voted in favor of Measure S, which is the countywide renewal of an eighth-cent sales tax that has made up a significant portion of the library's operating budget for a number of years. For the first time, voters were asked to extend the renewal for 12 years, rather than the five years in previous elections.

The count was 39,882 for and 8,645, or 17.81 percent against. It needed a minimum of 66 percent plus one vote for passage.

"More than a year ago, I was approached by our county librarian and fellow Rotarian, Diane McDonnell, to co-chair our campaign to Save Stanislaus Libraries," Save Stanislaus Libraries committee co-chair Ryan Dziadosz posted to Facebook earlier in the day. "I was a little leery, but after meeting my future co-chair Pat Portwood and seeing her dedication, organization, and enthusiasm in our first meeting, I knew I couldn't screw things up too badly and decided to jump into the fray. It's been quite a trip and it has truly taken a team. We're all good at our individual parts and together, those parts have made a great whole campaign."

Since over two-thirds of voters approve of Measure S, the library sales tax will extend for 12 years, effective July 1, 2018. An oversight committee is in place to see that the money raised is used appropriately. It is anticipated to generate $10 million annually for the libraries in Stanislaus County.

McDonnell appeared before the Ceres City Council in August to promote Measure S and win the endorsement of the body. She said the county library system is "the most used and visited public resource in our county. Last year, 1.2 million people walked through library doors and 1.8 million items were checked out."

She said the library listens to what the public wants in their library. In addition to expanding the ebook collection, new electronic resources have been added, such as downloadable audio books, magazines, movies and music. The library system also offers an online language learning resource "where you can learn virtually any language on earth from the comfort of home."

Public computers are offered at all 13 libraries as well as offers free WiFi.

In the Riverdale Park Tract Community Services District board race, Linda Nunes won term. Nunes received 11 votes, or 32.35 percent. Two candidates are tied for the second seat. They are Duane Shugart and Rodolfo "Rudy" Caro who each received nine votes apiece, or 24.93 percent. George Bixler who won five votes.

The Stanislaus County Board of Education race for the District 5 seat remained too close to call with 25 votes separating Chinyere Nnodim Jack of Patterson from opponent Juan Pablo Vazquez of Ceres. Thus far, Jack received 2,227 votes, or 48.98 percent, over Vazquez's 2.203 votes, or 48.45 percent. A total of 117 write-in votes were counted. Trustee Area 5 includes Ceres, Chatom, Modesto Elementary and Newman-Crows Landing districts.

Jack, 47, may succeed incumbent Bob Vizzolini. If that's the case, the board will consist of all females.

An immigrant from Africa who considers herself a "multi-national," Jack is a Democratic Party activist and was a Hillary Clinton delegate. Jack, a mother to a high school freshman, decided to run for the Board to inspire other parents to get involved with their children's educations.

"Our schools lack parent participation, especially in this area because parents commute," she said.

Jack, who runs a travel agency, has partnered with the city of Patterson in the past to host community Zumba lessons, and also joined forces with the local library to hold free juicing lessons. If elected, she would like to teach students how to live healthy lifestyles, as well as ensure students have access to mental health services.

Vazquez was inspired to join the race for the county school board during Bernie Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign, when the Senator encouraged community members to run for public office. Vazquez formerly worked for the car company Tesla, but recently became a field organizer for a group focused on flipping California's 14th Congressional District from red to blue.

Four seats on the Ceres Unified School District Board of Trustees were up for grabs this year but the lack of challengers to the incumbents resulted in cancellation of the election in lieu of appointments. Appointed were Mike Welsh in Trustee Area 2; Valli Wigt in Trustee Area 3; Lourdes Perez in Trustee Area 5; and Betty Sue Davis in Trustee Area 6.

An originally scheduled election for Ceres City Council was also postponed to next year because of a new state law meddling with municipal elections.

Originally the Ceres City Council races were scheduled to take place this November. However, in January the council elongated the terms of Linda Ryno and Ken Lane to align their ending with the gubernatorial election in 2018. The action was taken to comply with a state law seeking to increase voter participation. SB 415, passed by the Legislature and signed into law in 2015 by Gov. Jerry Brown, was designed to get municipal elections away from "off year" election cycles, in other words, when not packaged with an election for governor or president. State lawmakers observed that many voters don't bother to turn out to vote if only local races are on the ballot so the law requires cities to come up with a transition plan by Jan. 1, 2018 and implemented by November 2022. Ceres wasted no time in complying.

The seats of Mayor Chris Vierra and Councilmembers Bret Durossette and Mike Kline were set to expire November 2019, which is considered an off-year for elections. Adding a year to their terms mean they would be before voters in November 2020, which will is a presidential election year.

Results for the Stanislaus County Consolidated District Election are posted periodically as votes are counted throughout the night. To view a summary of the results, visit