Special to the Village News
Petitions were submitted on March 14 to the San Diego County Office of Education for a special election to select the board member for Area 1 of the Fallbrook Union High School District. Courtney Hilborn won the election and was seated in December but resigned not long after being sworn in.
The board made a provisional appointment of Jim Dooley at its Feb. 13 board meeting, but conservative parents were upset, contending the female applicant they endorsed would better represent the district. The board currently has three men serving: President Eddie Jones, Vice President Oscar Caralampio, and Paul Christensen. Hilborn and Christensen were elected as a conservative slate in November.
There is also an on-going vacancy in Area 2, which serves most of the southern part of Camp Pendleton.
Jones and Christensen are firemen and Caralampio is a teacher. Dooley, who placed second in the November election, is retired.
Dooley also voted with Jones and Caralampio at the Feb. 13 meeting to allow a controversial book, “Beyond Magenta,” to remain available in the FHS library.
Lindsay Jones and others coordinated the petition drive to have voters in Area 1 decide who will represent them. At the March 13 meeting, she explained she felt pressure to secure the 60-plus petitions in 30 days after the Feb. 13 appointment. “It was easy,” she told the board. “I mean we had 13 days; we were really stressed out. We didn't think we'd get 67 – but it was a cinch.”
She announced that she turned in 117 petitions to the COE.
“It looks like we will be going into a special election, but I will let you know there's nothing in the board rules that says you guys can't do a recount or revote,” she said. “Jim Dooley was not elected (by voters) and it's because the people are tired of having non-parents on the board, people who do not understand what the children are going through right now.”
The board didn’t respond to her offer.
A spokesperson for the COE said they had 30 days to review the petition for compliance with petition requirements. (Specifically, that it has enough signatures and is in the format required by the Education Code.) The Registrar of Voters also has a role, verifying that the names and signatures on the petition are of people who live within the trustee area in question.
If the petition is deemed legally sufficient, Dooley, as the provisional appointment, will be terminated under Education Code section 5091 and the county superintendent of schools must order a special election to fill the seat.
The ROV has estimated the election could cost between $100,000 and $225,000. The spokesperson said the variance is dependent on the actual makeup of the special election.
Assuming the petition is deemed valid, the timing of the election is determined by law. Neither the ROV nor the COE would not say precisely when that would be, but the ROV spokesperson gave a timeline of a previous election held in an off year from the regular election cycle. That example was for a 113-day period of activities and deadlines before the election would be held. The exact date of the election will depend on the date of the special election order.
The required number of signatures must include at least 1.5% of registered voters within the trustee area. The number of registered voters in Area 1 in November was 4,508, so the number of signatures required is 67.