Lewis, who served on the TUSD board from 1998 and 2010, was selected by a 4-2 vote during a special meeting at the District Education Center. He will be officially appointed to the seat at the school board’s next regular meeting on Jan. 8.
The 49-year-old said he was happy to get another opportunity to serve and noted that his immediate goal it to “get caught up, learn and help.”
Lewis said he left the board because his children had graduated the local schools and he was looking for other things to do to contribute to the community.
The other applicants were Marvin Barth, Mitra Behnam, Wes-Thomas Huffman, Lewis, Ann Mooney, Jass Sangha and Gurgit Srai.
Voting for Lewis were trustees Greg Silva, Jill Costa, Greg Crandall and James Vaughn, while Ted Guzman voted for Mooney and Walter Gouveia voted for Sangha.
Silva said his vote for Lewis was based upon his previous experience, proven leadership and the fact that he was relatively current with board issues as a member of the district’s Measure S oversight committee, which oversees spending on the $41 million bond passed by voters to modernize schools in 2008.
“I really like the fact that he has been on the board fairly recently and he is really up-to-speed in a fairly short time on issues the board is facing now and will be facing in the next two years,” Silva said.
Since the appointment required a four-fifths vote, Lewis was appointed to the position without a second vote by the board. He will serve the remaining two years of Swenson’s four-year-term.
Swenson resigned Dec. 13 after 18 years as a board trustee. He cited more time with family as his main reason for leaving his post.
Candidates were given 10 minutes to answer two questions:
n Why do you want to be on the school board?
n What role does a board member play in the governance of the school district?
Candidates were brought into the school board meeting room one at a time and in alphabetical order to answer the questions in front of the trustees.
The interviews were open to the public.
During questioning, all of the candidates spoke about their qualifications to serve on the school board, including their educational backgrounds and experience. Most said the appointment would provide them with the opportunity to give back.
Barth, who holds five college degrees, said serving on the board would provide him a “sense of satisfaction.”
A question of diversity was raised by Behnam, who said the board needed diversity to match the changing face of the school district, and Mooney said she wanted to assure that all children have access to an excellent education.
Huffman, Srai and Sangha spoke about their passion and desire to make a difference in the community.
Lewis talked about his prior experience on the Tracy Unified board and his desire to help the community.
When it came to discussing the board’s role, the answers from the candidates were more diverse.
“The school board’s job is to see a much bigger picture and facilitate those that do the work,” Huffman said.
Sangha believes that the board is the policymaker for the superintendent and staff.
Lewis said he believed the board’s role was to hire the superintendent and set the standards for the district. He said trustees need to make policies that are reasonable and attainable.
At the conclusion of the interviews and appointment, a number of the trustees urged the unsuccessful candidates to remain active in the school district and apply for the board again in the future.
“It’s great we as a community have people like you to come out,” Silva said. “Please continue your involvement.”
The names of the applicants were provided to the Tracy Press by TUSD officials on Monday, Dec. 31, after a public information request was filed with the school district.
• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
At a glance
WHAT: Tracy Unified School District
WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 3
WHERE: District Education Center board room, 1875 W. Lowell Ave.
DETAILS: President Greg Silva and trustees Jill Costa, Greg Crandall, Walter Gouveia, Ted Guzman and James Vaughn were present.