By The Leader Staff
Dr. Lupe Solis greets a recent Lemoore grad.
Dr. Lupe Solis greets a recent Lemoore grad.

Based on past elections, this year’s version of Kings County and Lemoore democracy in action seems strangely muted. Prospective local candidates, who normally vie for open seats on local school boards, city council, and other elective positions that require the people’s votes, seem to be taking a pass in 2022.

However, The Leader is familiar with the issues and the few candidates who are running for elective office. We will offer information and recommendations, which hopefully may enlighten prospective voters.

Up and down the ballot, incumbents are running unopposed for local school boards, including Lemoore Elementary School District, where most board members found themselves without challengers. 

And, at the Lemoore Union High School District, only former Lemoore High School principal, assistant superintendent, and Tulare County Assistant Superintendent Lupe Solis finds himself with a challenger to his seat on the district’s school board.

Tracy Landrus, popular former music and band instructor at Lemoore High, who later worked in law enforcement, including time spent with the Lemoore Police Department, decided to take on Solis, a three-term board member.

Solis has a long and distinguished record as an educator at every level, from elementary to college, where he recently served as an associate professor at Brandman University.

He grew up in Bakersfield, where he attended the local schools and enrolled in Bakersfield College, later transferring to Fresno Pacific University. He earned his doctorate degree at the University of San Francisco.

He arrived in Lemoore in 1975 and taught Spanish, English, Arts and Crafts, and PE, and he coached track and field and cross country.

While serving in Lemoore, Solis served as an assistant principal, principal, and assistant superintendent.

After serving a long stint at the Tulare County Office of Education, he ended his tenure as the district’s deputy superintendent. He finally retired in 2016. He also served as the deputy superintendent and superintendent in Avenal.

He ran for and was elected to the Lemoore High School Board in 2010, replacing an old friend, the longtime educator Gary Sedgwick.

Tracy Landrus at event honoring law enforcement officers.
Tracy Landrus at event honoring law enforcement officers.

Solis also got a firsthand look at how a pandemic altered the country’s state of education. “It was the most challenging time in education that I have ever experienced,” he told The Leader.

“Our staff, our teachers, have done a phenomenal job. I’m still amazed about our teachers. Everybody pitched in to do what we had to do,” he added. “We’re trying to bring it back to as normal as possible.”

Former Lemoore music teacher Tracy Landrus is also in the running for the lone school board seat available in November. The 70-year-old musician and teacher spent decades in education after attending Yuba City High School and majoring in music education at Fresno State.

Following a teaching stint at Chowchilla’s Wilson Junior High School, he arrived in Lemoore in 1977 to begin a long career as a music and band instructor.

Landrus was a colorful, visible figure at Friday night football games, directing the Tiger Pride Marching Band during halftimes. His musical students were also regular participants in local parades and graduation ceremonies.

In 1995 he left Lemoore, after 20 years, for a teaching job at Lancaster High School, where he taught for another 18 years. Meantime, the talented musician dabbled in law enforcement, becoming a reserve police officer.

Former Lemoore Police Chief Jeff Laws asked Landrus to come to Lemoore for his reserve duty. All totaled, Landrus served 35 years as a reserve officer. “I came up here one weekend a month and put my time in,” he remembered. “In the summer, I worked quite a bit.”

His reason for running for Lemoore High’s school board?

“I’ve seen changes in education not just in Lemoore but statewide, and I don’t like what I’m seeing,” he said. “With my experience, I think it’s time for some changes.”

Though he quickly adds that he views Lemoore safe from what he refers to as legislators fostering political indoctrination. “I’ve seen changes in education not just in Lemoore but statewide, and I don’t like what I’m seeing.”

“I don’t believe political indoctrination has any business in our schools,” referring to some teachers who talk about their political views in the classroom. “They need to focus on teaching. I’m not saying it’s going on in Lemoore. Liberal educators are pushing political indoctrination in schools.”

The Leader heartily recommends voters return Guadalupe Solis to the Lemoore High School District Board of Trustees due primarily to his lengthy experience in education as a teacher, a longtime administrator, and as someone who understands the issues and challenges of modern education – particularly in light of recent events, connected mostly to the pandemic.

Kings County Supervisor District 1

There is another high-profile race on the local ballot voters should peruse. Longtime Kings County District 1 Supervisor Joe Neves, a popular Stratford incumbent, who, in his spare time during the holiday season, doubles as Santa Claus. Neves finds himself paired against a young Stratford political newcomer, Robert Chavez, who has raised $50,629 in campaign contributions, outdistancing Neves’ $6,698 haul.

However, despite a poor turnout in the June Primary, Neves easily got past both Chavez and former Lemoore mayor Eddie Neal. However, it was a low turnout in June, where local voters, for the most part, stayed home. Kings elections officials reported that just 18.99 percent of voters made an effort to cast ballots.

Unfortunately, Chavez seems to have avoided The Leader. The Leader has attempted to contact Mr. Chavez several times, all to no avail. However, he must have contacted somebody because the first-time candidate has raised a significant amount of money, particularly for a local board of supervisor’s seat.

One of his biggest contributors – John Vidovich – according to local FPPC campaign contribution statements, contributed over $30,000 via himself, family members, and his organization, Sandridge Partners.

The Leader recommends Lupe Solis, Joe Neves be returned to local elected positions

Locally, Vidovich sought approval to build a beef feedlot and processing plant near Lemoore on a 789-acre project along Highway 41, just south of Highway 198. Originally, he wanted to build a slaughterhouse and a feedlot for up to 12,500 animals within visual distance of Lemoore, including West Hills College Lemoore.

According to local officials, the project has since been scaled back. Some of that scaling back – I like to think – were articles highlighting the proposed project. However, local leaders, including Neves, were sympathetic to the public’s ire over a slaughterhouse and the presence of thousands of cows just downwind from Lemoore proper.

The Leader heartily recommends longtime supervisor Joe Neves for another term on the Kings County Board of Supervisors.

In other notable races, the northern part of Kings County now belongs to the district of a longtime congressperson and Republican Minority Leader in the House of Representatives, Rep. Kevin McCarthy.

It’s somehow intriguing that should the House of Representatives flip after the election, we may be represented by one of the most powerful legislators in the country.

Rudy Salas for Congress, Melissa Hurtado for State Senate

It goes without saying that our local state legislators have been more than kind to Kings County and Lemoore specifically. Both Assemblyman Rudy Salas – currently running against Rep. David Valadao – and State Senator Melissa Hurtado have certainly been effective legislators.

More specifically, having Salas in the House of Representatives would benefit Kings County and Lemoore. We might remember that Salas may be in an adjacent district, part of which remains in Kings County, but certainly, he would not forget his old district.

One only has to remember his recent work to secure $2 million for the Lemoore Volunteer Fire Department in conjunction with State Senator Melissa Hurtado. And, of course, he assisted the Lemoore Police Department with the construction of a modern dispatch center.

At the Kings County level, Salas helped to build a new sheriff’s office and much more.

For the California State Senate District, District 14, we strongly urge that voters return Senator Melissa Hurtado for another term. Hurtado’s district is large, stretching from Fresno and Kings County to Bakersfield, and is home to about a million people.

We are a diverse population and one of the most important regions in the country where one-third of America’s vegetables and two-thirds of the nation’s fruit and nuts are grown.

The best description of Hurtado is that she is a strong policymaker who collaborates with Republicans and others to improve the quality of life for its residents. Her most recent visit to Lemoore brought with her funding for the Lemoore Fire Department.

On that note, The Leader recommends Lupe Solis for the Lemoore Union High School Board of Trustees, Joe Neves to return to his District 1 Supervisor, Rudy Salas for Congress, and Melissa Hurtado to return to her Senate District 16 seat.