Two newcomers, one incumbent win SUHSD elections

Skye Kinkade

Two new trustees, Gregg Gunkel and Jana Blevins, were elected to the Siskiyou Union High School District board last week. The voters also chose incumbent Sue Tavalero to retain her seat.

Tavalero and Blevins were the top two vote getters in Area 3, which includes Weed and Lake Shastina. Although the election totals have not yet by finalized by the Siskiyou County Clerk, the most recent report shows Tavalero with just over 35 percent of the vote and Blevins with close to 34 percent. They beat out local businessman Chris Pappas, who has 30.5 percent.

Gunkel, who snagged more than 57 percent of the vote, will replace retired teacher Linda Wallace from Mount Shasta as the representative for Area 2.

Tavalero said she is happy she was reelected to a second term during a phone interview Friday morning.

“I will certainly do what’s best for students in these trying times,” Tavalero said.

Blevins said she is pleased with the election’s outcome. She said she will try her best to follow in the footsteps of her husband, Joe, a SUHSD board member who passed away in June.

“It is a big responsibility to guard the public’s interest and be the eyes and ears for the community,” said Blevins, who is a retired school secretary and cheerleading coach. “I would like to see more communication between the community and the board and less of the ‘fishbowl style’ at meetings. I want the community to feel welcomed and valued.”

Gunkel, a retired school administrator who served as Mount Shasta High School principal for 10 years, said he’s “pleased and excited” by the win.

“It’s a great opportunity to go to the next stage of my career,” he said.

Wallace thanked everyone that supported her and said she will be concentrating on writing, which she plans to use to help children because education will always be her passion.

Wallace said she enjoyed the four years she spent on the board and liked learning from and working with the other board members.

“Whatever we do in life, it helps us on our journey,” she reflected. “Things always work out for a reason.”

Gunkel, Tavalero and Blevins will be sworn in during the Dec. 12 meeting of the Siskiyou Union High School District, which will be held at McCloud High School beginning at 4 p.m.