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FUHSD election date pending, activist critical of cost

Village News Staff

The election to fill a vacant seat on the Fallbrook Union High School District Board of Trustees has been approved by the County Office of Education, but the election date is pending. First, the formality of the election being “called” must occur.

“SDCOE is continuing to work directly with the Registrar of Voters (ROV) to identify the special election date,” said Music Watson, chief of staff of the county office on April 28. “The ROV has confirmed that this will be a stand-alone special election, not tied to any regularly scheduled countywide election.”

She anticipated finalizing the special election details and issuing the order of election would be completed this month. Once the order (outlined in Section 5091 of the Education Code) is finalized, the special election will be conducted between 88 to 125 days from the date of the order of election.

Watson said the ROV has shared helpful information with SDCOE on options to help minimize the overall cost of the special election for the Fallbrook Union High School District – estimated between $100,000 to $225,000.

The election will be held in Area 1 of the district to replace Courtney Hilborn, who won the November election and was seated in December, then resigned in January after moving out of the district. The board made a provisional appointment of Jim Dooley at its Feb. 13 board meeting as he was the runner up to Courtney Hilborn in the election.

This wasn’t acceptable to a group of parents who spoke up during the meeting and voiced their support for a more diverse board, asking for the board to approve a mother with students in the district rather than a fourth man. They were clear during the school board meeting that they would start gathering signatures and petition for a special election. They noted that Hilborn and Paul Christian, elected in November, comprised a slate that was broken with the appointment of Dooley.

Paul Gothold, County Superintendent of Schools, notified petitioners Lindsay Jones and Judy Willis on April 13 that they had submitted sufficient signatures to have voters decide their representative. That resulted in Dooley being discharged from the board. A map of the area boundaries is on the district web page.

The board currently has three men serving: President Eddie Jones, Vice President Oscar Caralampio, and Director Paul Christensen. The board also has a vacancy in Area 2 since the November election when the election policy of geographic area representatives was established. Area 2 covers the southern portion of Camp Pendleton, and no one sought election in November, and no one has applied for the position.

Fallbrook resident Leticia Maldonado-Stamos, who often speaks at board meetings, was not happy with the coming special election. She had harsh words during the public comments portion board meeting on April 17.

“The 60-some people who signed a petition to hold a special election for District 1 trustee – and thereby managing to bring a major cost to this district at the expense of our high school students – should frankly be ashamed of themselves,” she said. “But, of course, they are not. In fact, they are crowing. If they had to foot the bill of the election, I can guarantee you that they would not have done this. They have no skin in the game.”

“The Village News printed article upon article about how these parents wanted this election. Shame on the Village News as well. That shoddy reporting is a disgrace,” the activist said. “They didn't mention how their actions and this election would adversely affect all the district. This business is an irresponsible sham pretending to be a legitimate community-minded entity as is every single person pushing this agenda.”

Editorial note: Village News reported clearly when Mr. Dooley was appointed by the school board, which was at the school board's discretion and their right. We also reported that there were parents who were threatening to file paperwork and gather signatures for a special election if their person wasn’t appointed. That was their right as well. We followed their progress because that is community news. It would have been negligent to not report it. Both sides still have the ability to work to have a person of their choosing elected. We will continue to report on this board and the seats up for election. To predict how a special election would affect the district would be speculation and irresponsible. When the cost and any effects materialize, we will continue to report the news responsibly.

 

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