A city planning commissioner and neighborhood activist, Ray Gonzales now wants to be known as a school leader.
Gonzales said he’s running for the Oxnard School District board because he wants to stay involved in the community.
“I have not put together any blueprints or any particular proposals. I don’t have any pre-thought-out agenda,” Gonzales said. “I just think I am a good facilitator and a good communicator, and I see there are challenges ahead for the district, and I think I would do a good job.”
Gonzales is one of six candidates competing for three open seats on the board. Incumbents Jim Suter and Mary Barreto did not seek re-election. With more than 15,000 students, half of whom have limited English skills, the district is the largest elementary district in the county.
In addition to serving on the Oxnard Planning Commission, Gonzales was elected chairman of the city’s Inter Neighborhood Council Committee, a group that encompasses 43 local neighborhood councils. He owns a small insurance business and is director of one of the county’s Job and Career Centers, created to help welfare recipients get jobs.
Gonzales said he’s qualified because of the many positions he’s already held in Oxnard, where he’s lived since 1984. As head of the Fremont South Neighborhood Council, he said he’s worked to provide a clean and safe environment for children and homeowners.
While other challengers have suggested ways for the board to do a better job, Gonzales has not, saying it would be “presumptuous” of him to criticize the board since he has never served on it.
Gonzales said he’s the only local planning commissioner with his home phone number on his business card and that, as a school trustee, he would keep the communication lines open with the public.
“I want to use my time to help communicate what’s going on that’s good and what’s not good,” he said.
Gonzales opposes Proposition 227, which requires English instruction for all students unless parents seek a waiver to have their children placed in bilingual classrooms. He said Oxnard’s bilingual program should be looked at and possibly fine-tuned. He said maybe there wouldn’t be such a backlash against bilingual education if educators did a better job of showing their successes with the program.
As for the overcrowding issue, Gonzales supports reopening the old Ramona School in La Colonia
Occupation: Job and career center administrator.
Education: Associate degree, Delta College at University Center, Michigan.
Family: Married, five children.
Goals: To focus on existing issues; bring a novel perspective to the district; stay focused on children and families.