SUSD candidates Sofia Colón and Rafael Cardoza debate at The Record

Stockton Unified School District Board of Trustees Zone 6 candidates Sofia Colón and Rafael Cardoza sat down at the Record on Oct. 28 to discuss issues facing the struggling school district.

But what was supposed to be a debate turned into a conversation as the two discussed matters without much disagreement.

Colón, a Franklin High School alumnus, works as the manager of Kaiser Permanente’s Professional Coding Support Services department and is the founding leader of Latinas In Healthcare, a group aimed at increasing representation of Latinas in healthcare leadership. Health care. She is also a member of the South Stockton Schools Initiative and said SUSD needs leaders who will focus on student success.

“One of my interests is the third grade literacy rate. Right now they’re at 26%, and that’s just unacceptable…(I hope) to increase that number to at least 50% in four years,” Colón said. “Another priority for our community is fiscal responsibility…we need to vote with strong leaders who are humble enough to follow through on our demands and recommendations to put Stockton Unified on a better path.”

Sofia Colón attends a Candidates Forum for District 6 of the Stockton Unified School District Board at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton on Wednesday, September 28, 2022.

Cardoza has described himself as a frustrated parent and wants to focus on school safety – he was kicked out of at least one SUSD board meeting for his heated rhetoric, but he’s not letting that happen. to demand better from parents and leaders.

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“It all comes down to Stockton, we fell asleep. And we allowed these individuals to sneak in and take over our schools,” Cardoza said. “The reason I’m running for School Board Zone 6 here in Stockton is to give parents a voice, to put representation into it that’s not union led…to give a voice that’s not not influenced by financial gain.”

Both candidates had words for Area 6 incumbent Scot McBrian, who did not participate in the Oct. 28 debate at The Record or the September forums at San Joaquin Delta College. Colón said his first impression of McBrian was seeing him change his mind “in no time” at a board meeting.

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“It looked like he was about to do the right thing, then looking across the table he complied,” Colón said. “What are his intentions, his own intentions? Can he speak for himself and think for himself? … I think any elected official would be honored to come forward and speak for themselves.

“I spoke to him many times, a very intelligent man, a very respectful individual,” Cardoza said. “All I can say is I’m disappointed he didn’t come.”

Rafael Cardoza attends a Candidates Forum for District 6 of the Stockton Unified School District Board at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton on Wednesday, September 28, 2022.

The San Joaquin County grand jury burned Stockton Unified and the board twice in just over a year, showing issues of financial mismanagement, dysfunction and transparency. Cardoza said transparency is as simple as being honest and open with who he talks to.

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“Everyone has an abc, a plethora of doctorates and degrees. I ask you in the past 14 years since we received one of those (grand jury) reports… what have they done for our district? Cardoza said. “I stand here with the education of life, the education of hard knocks…strong leadership ability.”

“At this time, Stockton Unified has no selling point for attracting new students, new teachers, a new superintendent or police department chief,” Cardoza said. “I wish I could lie and blow smoke and make it look pretty…that’s not why I’m here.” I am here to bring to light the fact that we are not able to do this, and we should be able to do this.

Area resident Rafael Cardoza turns and addresses the audience as he makes his remarks during a public comment at a public meeting on the critical grand jury report at SUSD headquarters in downtown town of Stockton.

Colón said she believes the district is at a turning point, “just like the rest of America is at a turning point where our education systems are struggling.” She wants to push for partnerships in the business community and said she understands the importance of a quality education foundation to building Stockton’s local economy. She said she saw hope in the neighborhoods she surveyed.

“When I’ve spoken to constituents, to teachers, to employees, (they say), ‘We’re angry, we’re disgusted with what’s going on.’ But in every conversation, when we end, there is hope that it will get better,” Colón said. “We have people working hard on the front lines to do their best…change will come when we start to see results.”

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Colón, who served on the city’s Measure M Strong Communities oversight committee, said she supports Measure C, Stockton Unified’s $215 million bond measure for vocational and technical training facilities and general site maintenance. She strongly believes in the ability of the public to elect strong leadership.

Sofia Colón, left, and Kennetha Stevens attend a Stockton Unified School District Board candidate forum at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022.

“We can get to the drawing board and come up with a strategic plan with the right people in place in this administration. It’s something that shouldn’t take long to produce,” Colón said. “It takes dedication and due diligence. We can make a strategic plan work and make that connection work for our students.

Cardoza’s campaign is as popular as it gets, he said.

“I stand before you as myself, no one gives me money. I don’t want your money, I don’t want your time, I want your vote…I’m not in anybody’s pocket,” Cardoza said. “I’m doing this for the right reasons. I am doing this for the safety of your children, my children, for the safety of our teachers and our community to help get the answers we Stocktonians deserve.

Colón is endorsed by the Stockton Teachers Association, the California Schools Employees Association, and local Democrats, U.S. Congressman Jerry McNerney, State Senator Susan Eggman, and County Supervisor Kathy Miller. His campaign also received $40,000 from the Central Valley Leadership Fund. The PAC is handing out big checks to local candidates with leftovers from large 2020 donations from Michael Bloomberg and the Charter School-Related Nonprofit Campaign for Great Public Schools.

“I’m running because I really want to keep our community at a higher level. I want to keep our school district at a level where we can once again be proud to send our children through the school system,” Colón said.

Record reporter Ben Irwin covers Stockton and San Joaquin county government. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @B1rwin. Support local news, subscribe to The Stockton Record on

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