Cross-posted from OC Political:
After two regular board meetings and four special board meetings, the Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD) was unable to fill the vacancy on their School Board that resulted from the election of Ceci Iglesias (R) to the Santa Ana City Council. As such, they did not meet the February 9 deadline under state law to fill the vacancy by appointment, and the County Superintendent of Schools must call a special election for SAUSD.
The special election will take place on Tuesday, November 5, 2019, less than one year after the regular election for School Board (and City Council). The regular election for the next term for the same School Board seat will be less than a year later on Tuesday, November 3, 2020.
After winning 39.1% of the vote in a three-way race in the November 6, 2018, election, Iglesias was sworn in to the City Council on December 4. Her former School Board seat will be vacant for nearly 11 months, with the special election winner holding the seat for just over a year before the term expires.
On December 11, the School Board voted to hold an appointment process. Applications were due January 3. The School Board held a special meeting on January 8 to interview the 10 applicants. During that meeting, 2 applicants were ruled ineligible because they did not live in the School District boundaries, and 3 finalists were picked from the 8 eligible applicants.
At a January 15 special meeting, the Board deadlocked 2-2 on the appointee for the vacancy, with Board Members Rigo Rodriguez (D) and Alfonso Alvarez (D) voting to appoint Carolyn Torres (D) and Board Members John Palacio (D) and Valerie Amezcua (D) voting to appoint Bruce Bauer (D). A compromise attempt by Palacio to appoint the third finalist, Sergio Verino (D), failed when no one else supported Verino.
At its January 22 regular meeting, the Board deadlocked 2-2 on Torres and Bauer again.
At its January 29 special meeting, the Board deadlocked 2-2 on Torres and Bauer a third time.
At its February 8 special meeting, the Board deadlocked 2-2 on Torres and Bauer a fourth and final time.
Meanwhile at Santa Ana City Hall: Roman Reyna (D) resigned from the Santa Ana City Council, effective March 1. The Santa Ana City Charter gives the City Council until March 31 to appoint someone to fill the resulting vacancy. (Reyna had agreed to resign as part of a legal settlement to end a lawsuit accusing Reyna of being legally ineligible for the seat when he was elected in the November 6, 2018 election. As part of the agreement, Reyna agreed not to seek appointment to fill the vacancy nor run for election to fill the vacancy.)
If the Council fails to fill the vacancy by March 31, then there shall be a special election for City Council on Tuesday, November 5, 2019, to fill the remaining three years on that Council seat. In other words, most Santa Ana voters would fill both a City Council vacancy (through 2022) and a School Board vacancy (through 2020) in the November 2019 special election. (95.7% of SAUSD voters are residents of the City of Santa Ana. Conversely, only 73.7% of Santa Ana City voters are residents of SAUSD.)
The applicants for appointment to the School Board vacancy consisted of 7 Democrats, 2 Republicans, and 1 No Party Preference registrant. Of those, 1 Democrat and 1 Republican were ruled ineligible since they are not residents of SAUSD. The 10 applicants who were considered on January 8 were:
Receiving 3-4 Votes to Become Finalists
- Bruce Bauer (D), a former Santa Ana Planning Commissioner, who came in 6th in the 2016 election for SAUSD
- Carolyn Torres (D), a middle school teacher and an activist with Chicanos Unidos
- Sergio Verino (D), a community college adjunct professor and a Santa Ana City Code Enforcement Supervisor
Torres and Verino both received four votes to advance to the finalist stage while Bauer received three votes (Rigo Rodriguez dissenting on Bauer).
Receiving 2 Votes
- Shaulyn Barban (NPP), an 18-year-old high school senior
- Irma Macias (D), a Santa Ana Parks and Recreation Commissioner, who came in 6th in the 2018 election for City Council, Ward 2
- Mark McLoughlin (D), a Santa Ana Planning Commissioner and former Rancho Santiago Community College District Trustee, who came in 5th in the 2016 election for SAUSD
Valerie Amezcua proposed advancing Barban to the finalist stage, John Palacio proposed advancing Macias, and Rigo Rodriguez proposed advancing McLoughlin. Alfonso Alvarez provided a second vote for each of the three to advance to the finalist stage.
Receiving 1 Vote
- Jesus Montoya (D), a community college counselor
Only Rigo Rodriguez supported advancing Montoya to the finalist stage.
Receiving No Votes
- Gisela Contreras (R), an insurance brokerage account manager
- Abigail Aleman (D), ruled ineligible as a resident of Garden Grove Unified School District
- Richard Lyons (R), ruled ineligible as a resident of Saddleback Valley Unified School District