music in the park san jose

Options under discussion are appointment or keep job open untill
the November election
Will it be a special election, an appointment or the possibility of 3-3 votes? Morgan Hill School Board Trustees need to make a decision on how the vacancy created by the resignation of Trustee Tom Kinoshita on March 15 will be filled.

When the vacancy was discussed during the March 22 board meeting, it was clear none of the trustees would favor a special election, which could cost the district an estimated $300,000.

But the board is split over appointing a new trustee now or waiting to fill the seat in the Nov. 2 election.

According to the Registrar of Voter’s office, even if trustees appoint a new member now, the appointed person would have to run in the November election. All candidates would have to file for either one of the three available four-year-term seats or Kinoshita’s remaining two-year term.

The issue is expected to be discussed by trustees at the April 5 meeting. Four votes would be needed to make an appoinment or schedule a special election. If trustees split 3-3 or decide not to fill the position, the decision would go to voters in the Nov. 2 election, according to the county Registrar of Voters office.

“This is an opportunity for the six board members to work diligently together,” Trustee Jan Masuda said Monday. “It’s an opportunity to work on our teammanship, set our goals, come together as a team to provide leadership for the district to achieve those goals. I feel confident that we will do that.”

Masuda said she is in favor of keeping the seat open as the other two options, the special election and appointment, are not viable in her opinion.

“I don’t think it would be in the best interest of the district to hold a special election, given the cost,” she said. “As for the other option, to appoint someone, the concern that I have for the last 14 meetings is that the big issue the board will be voting on now, the really significant one, is the budget. It takes a lot of exposure, education and training for any board member to have enough knowledge to be able to make an informed decision.”

Trustee Amina Khemici does not agree.

“The community has already voted,” she said, referring to the November 2002 election, when there were 10 candidates for four seats. “I think (the vacancy) should be filled, I don’t think we need to wait.”

Khemici said the fifth highest vote-getter in the last election – Jasmine Woodworth – should be appointed.

Trustee Shellé Thomas agrees.

“Going back to the community, giving power to the community, this is what we need to do,” she said. “We can’t afford to wait until the election. We do have to build for the future and we have to start doing it at once. We will have four new people; a slate, if you will, or four new individuals, putting three of us as minority members. I think it’s time for us to step up. The mediator is the community.”

Woodworth said she might be interested.

“I do have an interest, but I’m not very fond of campaigning,” she said. “I think it would really depend on the process, if the process lent itself to where they were considering people who ran in the past election. I know the issues the district is dealing with now are huge, particularly the budget, and I would be willing to work hard to resolve them.”

Trustee Del Foster said budget issues are one of the reasons he thinks there doesn’t need to be an appointment.

“My leanings would be not to appoint anyone,” he said. “We have very difficult budget decisions to make, and these would be consensus decisions, because there’s really very little choice we have. I don’t think we would have any 3-3 votes at this point.”

Board President George Panos said he agrees.

“It (appointing to fill the vacancy) forces us, who have been through the hard times to get where we are, to introduce a variable that might not gel well,” he said.

Trustee Mike Hickey said to him, it didn’t make sense to appoint someone this close to the election.

“If the person only has two or three months in office, I don’t see the point,” he said. “We’re working well together right now, and to throw an unknown commodity into the mix could mess things up a bit.

“Considering what we are working on now, the new person would be completely inundated, would be lobbied by every organization to present their point of view. It takes you a few months just to realize that everything is not as it seems.”

Victoria Battison, spokeswoman for CARE (Community Alliance for Responsible Education), a group that served recall notices on Kinoshita, Foster, Panos and Masuda, said she thinks there is another solution. In order to return the board to an odd number to avoid stalemates, she said she would suggest that one of the outgoing board members not running for re-election resign now.

“One of the lame duck trustees could step down, and then they would have a five-member board,” she said.

On appointing someone to fill the seat, Battison said experience should count.

“Anyone who they would consider appointing should be someone who has been keeping up with district issues, and then you would not have to worry about bringing him or her up to speed,” she said. “The most logical person would be the person who received the next highest number of votes in the last election. They (trustees) should think about this and not act as they have in the past.”

Board members will decide whether to appoint someone to replace Kinoshita. If they name a replacement or leave the seat open, it will be the fourth trustee position on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Filing with the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters begins July 12 and continues through Aug. 6, possibly later for MHSD trustee positions.

Kinoshita’s seat will be for the remainder of his four-year term, which expires in 2006. He served as board president in 2003. Foster, Panos and Masuda have said they will not run for reelction in November.

Terms held by Hickey, Khemici and Thomas will be before voters in November 2006.

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