Get to know the candidates running for school board in Atascadero

Four seats on the Atascadero Unified School District Board will be up for grabs during the election on November 6, 2018.
Four seats on the Atascadero Unified School District Board will be up for grabs during the election on November 6, 2018.

When Atascadero residents go to the polls in November, they’ll consider electing a field of school board candidates mostly made up of incumbents.

Five candidates are competing for four seats on the Atascadero Unified School District board. Four of the candidates were previously appointed or elected: Ray Buban, Donn Clickard, Tami Gunther and George Shoemaker.

One candidate is a newcomer who’s challenging the incumbents: Bret Heinemann.

The Tribune sent the candidates questionnaires asking for basic biographical information and a brief explanation of what motivated them to run for office.

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Get to know them better by checking out their profiles below. Candidates’ responses have been edited and condensed for clarity and length.

Ray Buban

Age: Not provided

Biographical information: I am fortunate to have a perfect son, who married the perfect woman and they have given me the perfect grandchildren.

Occupation: I have a degree in accounting and I am licensed and recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as an income tax expert as an enrolled agent. I am a registered representative, also a certified fiduciary.

Volunteer work: Atascadero Kiwanis, Atascadero Athletic Boosters. Support and sponsor Little League, ECHO (El Camino Homeless Organization), Atascadero Police Association, city of Atascadero, FFA, Atascadero Chamber of Commerce, Central Coast Society of Enrolled Agents, North County Women’s Shelter, Red Cross, robotics, drama, choir, dance, band, Atascadero Community Link.

Why do you want to run for school board? To continue the progress that is happening in the Atascadero school district, which is second to none. The excitement I get just thinking about Atascadero Unified and what great things are being accomplished not only in the classroom and athletic fields but also state and nationally (Monterey Road Elementary School) and state, nationally and internationally (Atascadero High School).

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Donn Clickard

Age: Not provided

Biographical information: I taught in this district from 1970 to 2004. Shortly after retirement, I accepted an appointment to the school board. I have been elected twice since then. I continue to seek to use my experience as a teacher and athletic director in the district to benefit the students in our schools.

Occupation: Executive director, Atascadero Greyhound Foundation.

Volunteer work: Not provided.

Why do you want to run for school board? I am seeking re-election to continue the improvement in technology and vocational education and to ensure the wise use of funds from bond measures B10 and B14. We need to continue to support the achievements of the dedicated certificated and classified members who work so hard and so successfully to nurture students to become critical thinkers and lifelong learners. The trustees must continue to support the efforts of the superintendent and his administrative team to achieve these goals. One of the top issues facing our community, the parents and school officials is ensuring the safety of our children in all settings of education.

Tami Gunther

Age: 58

Biographical information: I’ve lived my whole life in San Luis Obispo County, and my family has been in the Atascadero area for the past 25 years. I attended San Luis Obispo High School, Cuesta College, and Santa Barbara Business College. I’ve worked as a bookkeeper and personal assistant for the past 30 years. My husband and I have two wonderful daughters, both of whom attended Atascadero school district schools from elementary through high school.

Occupation: Bookkeeper and personal assistant.

Volunteer work: My current volunteer work is focused on advocacy for public education. I’ve been on the board of directors for the Tri-County Education Coalition for 10 years. I also spend a couple of days a month traveling to Sacramento for meetings in my role as a regional director for the California School Boards Association.

Why do you want to run for school board? I am passionate about advocating for the needs of our district, and for public education in general. Over the past 12 years, I have served as board president and clerk on our board. The current AUSD board has a diverse background and yet we all work collegially to support the work of the district. This is a rare thing, and I’m proud to be a part of this team.

Bret Heinemann

Age: 57

Biographical information: I’ve been a resident of Atascadero since 1971, when I moved here with my parents. I completed grades 5 through 8 at Trinity Lutheran School in Paso Robles, and I’m an Atascadero High School graduate. I have an associate’s degree in electronics technology from Cuesta College and a bachelor’s degree in history with a minor in political science from CSU Fresno. Substitute teaching from 2004 to 2006 gave me an understanding of challenges, needs, and what is not needed in the classroom.

Occupation: Businessman/writer.

Volunteer work: Not provided.

Why do you want to run for school board? The students. Yes, I also have the support and encouragement of parents, grandparents and people who do not have children to run for this position on the school board. Schools are just one part of a child’s education, albeit a very large part that is traditionally associated with academics. The family, home life, and community are also significant parts of education. The financial challenges to meet the demands will continue, and the schools will need to prioritize the needs of students. In the near future, new technology will simplify the tasks of mid-level management to allow schools to save money and redirect money to other uses.

George Shoemaker

Age: 57

Biographical information: I am married to my wife Kelly and have three children, two of whom are in the Atascadero Unified School District system. My oldest daughter teaches English in Japan. We live in Atascadero. My educational background is a bachelor’s degree in cultural geography from Sonoma State University and a master’s degree in public policy from Cal Poly. I have 15 years teaching experience at the high school level. I have current teaching credentials in both social science and physical education.

Occupation: Farmer, school board trustee, former school teacher.

Volunteer work: My volunteer work locally includes previously serving on the Atascadero Unified School District bond oversight committee, as well as coaching baseball for both Little League and Babe Ruth, coaching basketball for the recreation department and the middle school, and also coaching a small track club.

Why do you want to run for school board? I am seeking election to the school board to continue serving our community. As a school board member, I have tried to be actively involved with getting to know what is going on at our schools. I have visited school sites on a regular basis and talked to students, teachers and parents to find out what issues they need help with. My vision for education in our community is centered around institutions. I think each school should be a place of pride and a center of social community. I want our teachers and administrators to take pride in their schools and for our students and parents to feel welcomed and cared for.

Lindsey Holden: 805-781-7939, @lindseymholden
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