Get to know your nine candidates campaigning for your vote this November 

By The Paso Robles Press Editorial Board 

PASO ROBLES — The Paso Robles Joint Unified School District Board has four seats open, three districts, and one at-large seat. This year nine candidates are vying for the seats. 

Candidates running for PRJUSD trustee seats in the 2022 November election are:


District 1 

  • Jim Cogan 
  • Chris Arend 
  • Peter Byrne

District 2

  • Joel Peterson

District 4

  • Frank Triggs
  • Sondra Williams 


  • Adelita Hiteshew 
  • Laurene D. McCoy 
  • James “Jim” Irving 

Each candidate had the opportunity to answer the same list of questions in 100 words or less in addition to their introduction at 200 words. The candidate’s statement in its entirety is provided below, with the exception of Chris Arend, Peter Byrne, Frank Triggs, Adelita Hiteshew, and Laurene D. McCoy, who did not participate.

The candidates are listed by District and in alphabetical order by last name. 

Candidate Statement

District 1 

Jim Cogan

Chief Operating Officer, Acre Cloud, LLC.

I am from New Hampshire and a parent of two students in the Paso Robles School District. My wife and I moved to Paso looking for a community like my hometown in NH, and we found that home in Paso Robles. The school district has been very good to our sons. They have been taught by dedicated and professional teachers, coached by hardworking coaches, and served by excellent administrators.

I am running for school board, because this is a way I can give back to a school district and community that has given us so much. I have over 20 years of local government public service experience and have dedicated a great deal of time and energy to serving the Paso Robles community. I am the Vice President of the Heritage Ranch Owners Association Board, Chair of the Paso Robles Supplemental Sales Tax Oversight Committee, an Elder at Highlands Church, and serve on the Board of Directors of both the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce and the Paso Robles Recreation Foundation.

The school board needs to rededicate itself to the sacred trust it has been given to ensure the free and appropriate education of our students, all of our students. Rather than focusing on intentionally divisive issues, the school board needs to redouble the effort to address learning loss from the pandemic. Rather than demanding that students conform to antiquated archetypes, the school board needs to ensure that our system embraces students for who they are. And finally, rather than assuming that our parents and families our woefully ignorant as to the influences in our students’ lives, the school board needs to show Paso families the respect of opening a dialogue about how the board can best serve our students. 

Incumbent Chris Arend and Peter Byrne did not participate.

District 2

Joel Peterson

Executive Director

Public school education is what helped shape our nation. It can be powerful, inspirational, life-changing, frustrating, and messy. But education is key to progress and growth, and we need to provide teachers and students the resources, spaces, and tools to learn and succeed. Our schools are constantly being challenged by those who want to take the focus away from our students and their education.

I am a parent of two daughters in the district who have received a strong education, have become bilingual, and have been the beneficiaries of the district’s employees. I served on the PRJUSD Board for eight years, from 2013 to 2020. I learned an incredible amount about education, relationships, school funding, grants, bonds, and budgets. We need to support and protect groups who have been marginalized in the past. We need to provide safe spaces for learning, culture, and development. 

I have served this community for 20 years and look forward to the chance to make a difference. I am dedicated to serving again on the school board to improve the district, make stronger decisions to protect students and teachers, and provide for our community’s future. I am running unopposed in Area 2.

District 2 has no additional challengers. 

District 4

Sondra Williams

Registered Nurse — Cal Poly Slo Clinical Services Director

My name is Sondra Williams, and I was born and raised in this community. I am a mother to four beautiful babies. one is a Butler Bear, one is a Bearcat, one is a United States Sailor, and one is a Texas Tech law student. I have served the community in a couple of different ways, but most notably, I served previously as the Paso Robles Youth Cheerleading Program Director. I worked as an ER RN in the Twin Cities Community Hospital, and have had the immense honor of being there for some of the most tender moments in our community members’ lives. I am running for school board because I am tired of seeing such a deep divide, and not seeing constructive steps taken for the success of our students. I believe in this community wholeheartedly, and I believe that when we take the time to plant roots for our children’s education, beautiful trees branch out into our community.

Incumbent, Frank Triggs did not participate.


James “Jim” Irving

Realtor / Rancher

I was so appalled this summer by the aggressive attempts by the established political parties to elect partisans to non-partisan positions that I decided to offer my candidacy as an option for voters to choose from.

I am concerned that attempts to limit the teaching of actual history will only result in an uninformed citizenry in the future. I feel that our country is in crisis, and only by knowing our past can we address the issues of the present.

Adelita Hiteshew and Laurene D. McCoy did not participate.