STOCKTON (CBS13) — Samuel Nunez is very open about his past gang lifestyle and prior convictions. His right arm is a reminder of his violent history in Santa Clara County.
“At 18 years old, I was shot in a drive by shooting,” said Nunez. “I retaliated against the people who shot me. It was actually a shooting-involved charge.”
Nunez said he was convicted in Santa Clara Superior Court and spent time in prison. Now at 39, Nunez runs Fathers and Families of San Joaquin in Stockton. It’s a nonprofit he created ten years ago to mentor parents and children.
“I made mistakes, no doubt about it,” said Nunez. “I have a debt to pay and I want to serve in any capacity that I can.”
This week, Nunez’s name appeared on the San Joaquin County Office of the Registrar’s website as a candidate for Stockton Unified School Board for District 7. He’s running against incumbent Steven Smith and Parks and Recreation Commissioner Aaron Edwards.
Can Nunez, a convicted felon, legally run for SUSD school board? According to the state elections code, the answer is yes.
“As long as you meet the criteria, it wasn’t an issue,” said Nunez, who did not have a governor’s pardon or his record expunged. He spoke with CBS13 on his candidacy during his lunch break Friday afternoon.
San Joaquin County’s Registrar of Voters Austin Erdman said he interpreted the state election code as stating only felony convictions for bribery, embezzlement, perjury, and conspiracy to commit those crimes with public funds are not eligible. Nunez’s gun conviction is allowed. However, Erdman said his office is consulting with the county’s attorney.
Nunez thinks his background will help the school board understand Stockton’s current students and issues they face with gangs.
“My record in this community has been nothing but giving back to this community,” said Nunez.
CBS13 asked SUSD if Nunez would be allowed on school campuses if elected. A school district spokesperson said the district needs to review its own policy on convicted felons on campus before it can respond.
Nunez said he’s worked with SUSD on campuses before during youth mentoring events. He also said he still owns a home in Manteca, but legally changed his address to Stockton last year.
He said if his past becomes too much of a controversy, he’ll bow out of the race.