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School Board – Candidates Vie For Three Seats

POSTED October 23, 2013 8:34 a.m.
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There will be races for the Oakdale, Knights Ferry, and Valley Home school districts’ board seats in the Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013 Consolidated District Election.

In the Oakdale Joint Unified School District, Trustee area 2(area shared with San Joaquin County), four candidates filed papers to run for three available seats. Incumbents Mike House and Diane Gilbert are running, as well as retired OJUSD administrator Barbara Shook and salesman/project manager Joe Peterson.

In next week’s issue on Oct. 30, The Leader will feature profiles of candidates for the Knights Ferry Elementary School District and Valley Home Joint School District boards of trustees. More information is available on the Stanislaus County Elections Office website at Only the local school district boards have contested races, other candidates are running unopposed for other local board seats.

Below are brief question and answer bios with photos on each of the OJUSD Board of Trustees candidates. The candidates are listed alphabetically.


Diane Gilbert

Age: 54

Occupation: Owner – Diane Stone & Associates/Board Member, Oakdale Joint Unified School District

Q: Briefly, what are your qualifications for this office?

A: I am a local business owner who will continue to use my skills to keep district resources focused on the classroom – where they belong.

I have been a parent volunteer in my son James’ classroom since he was a kindergarten student. James now attends sixth grade at Sierra View Elementary.

Q: Why are you running for office?

A: I wish to continue my work on the OJUSD board and keep our district moving in a positive direction. District wide API scores have risen from 786 in 2009/10 to 807 in 2012/2013. OJUSD has the highest test scores of any unified district in Stanislaus County. OJUSD has maintained a 20:1 student teacher ratio in grades K-3. We have protected arts, sports, and gifted education programs that other districts have been forced to cut.

Q: What are your priorities for this office?

A: Continue working with parents, teachers and administrators to ensure that every student has the greatest opportunity to succeed.


Mike House

Age: 56

Occupation: I recently leased out the poultry ranch that I had owned and operated for close to 30 years, and now I am a real estate salesman for Touchdown Properties in Oakdale.

Q: Briefly, what are your qualifications for this office?

A: I graduated from the University of the Pacific in Stockton in 1980 with a BA in Economics. I have served on the Oakdale Joint Unified School District board since its inception in 1997, and before that I served on the Oakdale Elementary school board. I have been serving the Oakdale school system since 1993.

Q: Why are you running for office?

A: I firmly believe that regardless of what career path our students take, a good education is the key to success. My wife Judy and I, as well as our six children, attended and graduated from Oakdale schools. We currently have 12 grandchildren and 25 great nieces and nephews who are either currently enrolled in Oakdale, or live within its boundaries that aren’t yet school age. I have invested my personal interest in the educational and developmental needs, not only in those whom I am related to, but for all the children that come through the Oakdale school system. I grew up in this community, have a vested interest in its schools, and want to do all I can to insure that educational excellence continues, our students and teachers needs are met, and our district upholds the standard of growth that it has seen over the past 20 years.

Q: What are your priorities for this office?

A: Oakdale is a great community to raise a family. We have great teachers and students and I feel it is important to support that small town feel that so many of the larger districts yearn for. First, I would like to maintain safety in our schools so that our students and parents feel safe here. Secondly, as we work our way through the new funding model from the state, I would make it a priority to restore the classroom days we lost and the salaries that were cut during the State’s financial crisis. Then, while working within the framework of the new Common Core Standards adopted by the State Board of Education, we will work to educate our students while embracing the uniqueness of the Oakdale community.


Joe Peterson

Age: 56

Occupation: Salesman/Project Manager for Crown Painting, Inc. based in Oakdale.

Q: Briefly, what are your qualifications for this office?

A: I am actively involved in the elementary schools and high school on a daily basis. The connections I’ve made with administrators, teachers and students should prove to be invaluable when it comes to school board business. For the past 10 years I’ve volunteered approximately 700 hours per year helping students read, exercise and play high school baseball.

Q: Why are you running for office?

A: The business of educating our children is my greatest passion. With an annual budget of over $40 million, the Oakdale Joint Unified School District has a great responsibility determining the future development of many lives through the education and programs for its students. My love for all children, the experiences I’ve had in several businesses and my pride in the community of Oakdale lead me to pursue the position of a school board member.

Q: What are your priorities for this office?

A: My priorities are to insure that the school district is growing and making well planned changes to help the students so that their educational experience is positive and worthwhile, as well as providing teachers support and assistance that enables them to teach to their full potential.


Barbara Shook

Age: 68

Occupation: Retired Educator

Q: Briefly, what are your qualifications for this office?

A: I have 32 years in education.

Q: Why are you running for office?

A: I went into education to make a difference in students’ lives. Being a school board member would allow me to continue to provide support for the best education possible for students.

Q: What are your priorities for this office?

A: Keeping schools on the alert by regularly reviewing safety drills for staff and students. Reviewing budgets and focusing education dollars in the classroom.


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