So here is what Larry Hernandez, husband of the late Sara Cazares, said during public comment tonight. And at the end, there are responses from the two unsuccessful board candidates tonight, Bill Ross and Naveed Ahmed.
“I am here tonight to remind you of the memory and legacy of my wife. Sara Cazares was a Harvard graduate who returned to Stockton and served this school district with intelligence, distinction, integrity and dedication. But she is no longer here with us. In honor of her, though, I am also here tonight out of concern regarding two of the applicants for the vacant trustee seat. In particular, I am speaking specifically of Bill Ross and Naveed Ahmed. These two applicants make a mockery of my wife’s legacy.
“In 2010, voters in Area 6 spoke loud and clear when they rejected Bill Ross during the election. My wife slaughtered Ross by a 15-percent margin, thus invalidating the second-place finisher appointment argument. Voters soundly rejected his controversial term regarding his lack of intelligent approach and behavior as a board member, bullying antics, name calling, and his lack of professionalism at school sites and during board meetings. Oh, yes, did we forget his racist comment to former board Trustee Colleen Boardman when he stated that there were already too many Mexicans on the school board. And when he was running for school board back in 2006, he lied when he told our neighbors he lived across the street from Rio Calaveras. The reality is that he lives next to August School. Do we really want a return to this kind of legacy? His letters of recommendation forget to mention he created and fostered turbulence during his term and brought no intelligent approach to student achievement, an issue he claims to care so much about. In his own neighborhood, August Elementary was totally neglected. After my wife was elected, she went out to August School and came to notice that the school had repeated break-ins, had no library nor a computer lab. Now there are no more break-ins. She helped to get their library reopened and donated books for it, but she also helped to get them laptops for a much-needed computer lab. I can only guess that Ross was too busy being the district watchdog.
“Regarding Naveed Ahmed, he claims he is applying for the board position as a tribute to my wife. Really? He never gave me the courtesy to ask if he could do this as a tribute to her. Maybe he knew what the answer would be: Absolutely no. That’s because the last conversation Sara had with him, he told her he was helping on (Anthony) Silva’s (mayoral) campaign. She reminded him of Silva’s controversial term as a board member that was marred with investigation on him and people he allied with. Naveed rejected her argument. So she told Naveed she didn’t want anything to do with him. So Naveed chooses to align himself with Silva, the same Silva who can’t even work with the City Council but who sure wants to control the SUSD board. But more importantly, Naveed does not have a history of responsible behavior. Two years ago I heard that his supervisor was notified of his inappropriate comments toward STEP-UP staff women while subbing as a STEP-UP assistant. It also appears he likes to make inappropriate male-chauvinist comments about women’s bodies. Is this the kind of individual we want to unleash onto our school campuses?
“For these reasons, I am asking you as the board to reject these two controversial applicants. Board Trustees Allen, Ramirez, Varela and Garcia: You told me after my wife passed away to not hesitate to ask you for anything. Well, I’m here to ask you to honor my wife’s legacy and memory by rejecting Ross and Ahmed, and to instead narrow your selection to the other … (applicant). Thank you.”
Ross said, “I feel very deeply saddened by his loss, but he doesn’t know me. He’s never spent any time with me and if he did, he would know none of those things are true.”
Ahmed denied the allegation of sexual harassment. He said Silva’s campaign is just one of those he has worked on and added, “I wish the best for Larry Hernandez. He’ll still be a role model and mentor to me.”
Businessman David Midura was chosen on a 5-1 vote. The only vote against him was from Sal Ramirez. Midura’s service will begin at Tuesday night’s board meeting.