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Ron Freitas appointed to fill Area 6 seat on Lodi Unified board

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Ron Freitas

Posted: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 7:19 am, Wed Oct 31, 2012.

Options were limited to fill a soon-to-be vacant seat on the Lodi Unified School District board of trustees, but a district attorney has been appointed to fill Area 6.

Ron Freitas of Lodi has worked for the San Joaquin County District Attorney's office since 1998, and is currently the chief deputy district attorney for the homicide and gang division.

As a board member, Freitas plans to continue the work the current members have begun.

"I know how important it is to get a qualified candidate," he said. "I want to maintain the integrity of this board."

Freitas submitted his application on Monday. He was made aware of the position over the weekend, and decided to apply on relatively short notice. He applied for the same seat three years ago.

"Even though it happened so quickly, I hope that my submitting the application yesterday does not affect your opinion. I have thought long and hard about this," he said.

A small committee of Joe Nava, Ralph Womack and George Neely approved Freitas' resume and address within the correct area. The full board met moments later for a public interview of six questions.

"I want to stress how important a responsibility this is. There is no greater function than helping people achieve things in life," said Freitas during the interview.

Freitas has worked with trustee Ralph Womack outside of the school district. Womack is a former police captain for the Stockton Police Department who worked with gangs during Freitas' time at the district attorney's office. Now both of them serve on Operation Peacekeeper, a program to reduce gang-related violence in Stockton.

"He's the stick side of the operation, and I'm the carrot," said Womack.

Womack and other trustees were pleased to see someone step up for the position.

"If no one applied, then we would have to advertise again. It gets to be a strange situation," he said.

Superintendent Cathy Nichols Washer said there are two reasons people might not be applying to serve on the board. One is that people may be satisfied with the work the board is doing and have no inspiration to change anything. The other possibility is that people are reluctant to take on the responsibility.

"We're fortunate this worked out," she said. "People are busy, they're stressed out about life and the economy. Maybe it's just bad timing."

Freitas will be sworn in for the 2013 year on Dec. 11, along with the other trustees.

Trustees earn a monthly stipend of $675, plus health insurance.

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