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Nearly 100 candidates seek school board seats in Contra Costa County

As the election filing deadline neared in Contra Costa County on Friday, nearly 100 candidates had taken out papers for more than 20 school board races.

The filing deadline will be extended to 5 p.m. Wednesday in 11 districts where some incumbents are not seeking re-election. These include: The Acalanes, Brentwood, Byron, John Swett, Lafayette, Moraga, Mt. Diablo, Orinda, Pittsburg, Walnut Creek and West Contra Costa districts.

Just before the filing deadline, it appeared that nearly all of the races would be contested, with most incumbents facing challengers. Here is a list of the races and candidates who had qualified for the ballot by 5 p.m. Friday, followed by potential candidates who had taken out papers, but had not yet completed all the ballot requirements.

County Board of Education, Area 2: Incumbent Christine Deane and Ray Andersen.

County Board of Education, Area 4: Incumbent Richard Asadoorian and Mike Maxwell.

County Board of Education, Area 5: Incumbent Cynthia Ruehling and Jeff Belle.

Community College, Ward 1: Incumbent John Marquez and Cheryl Sudduth.

Community College, Ward 3: Tim Farley and incumbent Matthew Rinn.

Community College, Ward 4: Incumbent John Nejedly (unopposed).

Acalanes: Incumbent Susan (Susie) Epstein, incumbent Nancy Kendzierski, Kristen Correll and Robert Hockett.

Acalanes (short term): Incumbent J. Richard Whitmore (unopposed).

Antioch Unified School District: Incumbent Joy Motts, Incumbent Gary Hack and Debra Vinson and Walter Ruehlig.

Brentwood: Incumbent Emil Geddes, incumbent Heather Partida, John A. Fjeldstad, Scott S. Dudek, Susan Wallace, Johnny Rodriguez, Christina Bell and Marci Lapriore.

Byron Union: Incumbent Jill Marlene Sprenkel, Felicia Schweller and Tania Salinas. Not yet qualified: Karri Jo Murayama.

Byron (short term): Incumbent Betty Sanchez. Not yet qualified: Gina Larmar Parish.

Canyon Elementary: Incumbent David James Smith, incumbent Ian Llewellyn and incumbent Geronimo Bernard.

John Swett: Incumbent Brian Colombo, Michael Kirker and Deborah A. Brandon.

Knightsen: Incumbent Liesel Williams, Patrick Hulleman and Kristen L. Fuller, incumbent Ralph Adam McMeans and Robin Denise Pastor.

Lafayette: Incumbent Teresa Gerringer and incumbent David Gerson and Suzy Pak.

Liberty: Incumbent Roy Ghiggeri, incumbent Daron Spears, incumbent Joanne Louise Byer and Pauline Allred.

Martinez: Incumbent Deidre Siguenza, incumbent Roberta “Bobbi” Horack and Ronald Skrehot.

Moraga: Incumbent Parker Colvin, Heather O’Donnell and Jonathan Nickens.

Moraga (short term): Not yet qualified: Heather o’Donnell.

Mt. Diablo: Incumbent Linda Mayo, incumbent Cheryl Hansen, Michael Langley, Herbert Lee, Debra Mason and James Ryan Egnor-Keil.

Oakley: Incumbent Gloria Jean Lott, incumbent Mark Jordan and incumbent Arthur Fernande.

Orinda: Incumbent Juliane Rossiter, Hillary Shayne Weiner, Carol Brown and Jason Kaune. Not yet qualified: incumbent Christopher Clark Severson.

Pittsburg: Incumbent Joe Arenivar, incumbent Duane Smith and De’Shawn Woolridge. Not yet qualified: Daniel Borsuk.

San Ramon Valley: Incumbent Ken Mintz, incumbent Rachel Hurd, incumbent Denise Jennison and Jerome Pandell.

Walnut Creek: Incumbent Barbara Pennington, Stacey Schweppe, Aimee Moss, Heidi Hernandez Gatty and Sherri McGoff.

West Contra Costa: Incumbent Madeline Kronenberg, incumbent Elaine Merriweather, Elizabeth (Liz) Block, Chester Stevens, Raquel Donoso, Otheree Christian, Mister Phillips and Peter Nicholas Chau. Not yet qualified: Charlene W. Harlan-Ogbeide, Valerie Cuevas and Giorgio Cosentino.

Which candidates do you support?

Posted on Friday, August 8th, 2014
Under: Contra Costa Community College District, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa County Board of Education, Education, Election, John Swett district, Lafayette school district, Liberty district, Martinez school district, Moraga, Mt. Diablo school district, Oakley district, Orinda, Pittsburg school district, San Ramon Valley school district, Walnut Creek School District, West Contra Costa school district | 14 Comments »

Remembering Eugene ‘Gene’ Ballock

Eugene Ballock, a former principal of Lafayette, Orinda and Walnut Creek schools, has died.

Eugene Ballock, a former principal of Lafayette, Orinda and Walnut Creek schools, has died.

When Eugene Ballock took on his role as principal of Del Valle High School in Walnut Creek, he was delighted, recalls his daughter, Kim Johnson.

“He was so proud of Del Valle High School when he got there,” she said, as she reminisced about her father, who died July 3. “It was beautiful. It was the newest school in the (Acalanes Union High School) district, even though it was 25 years old.”

Many years later, in retirement, Ballock returned to the school (which was closed and used by the city) for recreational activities, she said.

“We always said it was ironic that he ended up moving to Rossmoor,” she said. “He would go swimming at the Del Valle pool.”

He was married to Lois Ballock, who was a nurse at John Muir Medical Center, for 58 years.

Here’s a brief synopsis of Ballock’s career from the family’s obituary notice:

“In 1963, Eugene’s family moved north and he became principal of Inland Valley Intermediate School in Orinda. He was also principal of Stanley Intermediate School and Fairview Intermediate School in Lafayette.

Eugene was the final principal of Del Valle High School in Walnut Creek. He became principal of Las Lomas High School in Walnut Creek in 1979 and retired in 1989. During his retirement he was Student Teacher Advisor for Chapman University.”

Since her parents didn’t have a lot of money, the family regularly visited the Pleasant Hill library, Johnson said.

“He checked out books on every subject matter you can imagine,” she said. “He was a real history buff. So, in his retirement — and throughout his life — he collected books. He had an eclectic collection that included books about President Lincoln and World War II and the Civil War and fighter pilot jets. He loved aviation. He went to his last book club meeting a couple weeks before he died.”

Ballock also loved golf, camping, fishing and his career, his daughter said. Many of his retirement golf buddies were former principals of schools such as Campolindo and Miramonte High, she said. Some were former teachers who had worked for him.

“It’s like none of them had time to play golf in the real (working) world,” she said. “They were all his friends.”

Johnson said she was incredibly touched by the comments that many of his past students have written in the online guest book that accompanies his family obituary.

“As his daughter, you don’t see your dad in the same perspective that other people saw him,” she said. “I knew he was a good man. I knew he was honest and loyal to a fault and had excellent character.”

But, she also knew him as the dad who sometimes irritated her because he wouldn’t let her sleep in on weekends. The comments, she said, gave her a stronger appreciation for how he touched others in life-changing ways.

“I have a friend and she had him at Fairview, Del Valle, Las Lomas,” Johnson said. “She said she didn’t have a good relationship with her own father and he (Ballock) was the first man she ever respected in her whole life. He made such an impact on her life.”

Another former student commented: “Mr. Ballock was a ‘good egg,'” Johnson said. “That’s true. He respected the law. He knew what was right and what was wrong. He was a man of great dignity.”

But, Ballock also had a fun side, Johnson recalled.

“He had a great sense of humor,” she said. “He told stupid jokes all the time.”

Johnson said her father stood out in the memories of many past students, including one who recognized him when the family was vacationing in Canada.

“They remembered him and he remembered a lot of kids’ names too,” she said. “Not just the good ones and the bad ones, he remembered the ones in the middle too.”

Ballock’s health took a turn for the worse after surgery on his stomach five years ago, Johnson said.

“He had been battling complications from that,” she said. “The last year was a struggle for him for sure. He’s the one who didnt’ get the memo he was dying. He just wanted to be here.”

When a minister recently asked Ballock what he was most proud of, Johnson said he responded: his family.

“He was very proud that all three of us kids like each other and we get together and we take care of our mom and we took care of him,” Johnson said.

Even though her father bought lottery tickets every week, he never won, Johnson said.

“But I think he would say he won the lottery, because he had this great family,” she said. “The fact that we love each other — I think that made him most proud.”

The family expects about 300 to 400 people at his memorial service at 2 p.m. Saturday at Walnut Creek United Methodist Church, 1543 Sunnyvale Ave. in Walnut Creek.

In lieu of flowers the family requests donations to the Walnut Creek United Methodist Church Memorial Fund, 1543 Sunnyvale Avenue, Walnut Creek, CA 94597 or Hospice of the East Bay, 3470 Buskirk Avenue, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523.

Do you have memories of Eugene Ballock that you’d like to share?

Posted on Thursday, July 14th, 2011
Under: Contra Costa County, Lafayette, Orinda, Walnut Creek | No Comments »