School boards’ paths diverge on openings


   Two school districts in the San Jacinto Valley are taking different approaches to filling openings on their governing boards. 

   Although Hemet Unified had nine candidates apply for an appointment, San Jacinto Unified trustees voted 4-0 Tuesday to fill a vacant seat on 
their dais via election. 

   “I have often heard that the people would like to speak, so I call for an election,” board President John Norman said before trustees began to discuss the item. 

   “Let the people decide,” added trustee Willie Hamilton. 

   It’s the third opening in recent 
years on the board. The other two were filled by appointment. 

   “It’s important the community has a say,” trustee Debbi Rex said. 

   Boards generally cite the cost of elections as the reason for choosing to appoint. San Jacinto Unified School District officials estimate a price tag of about $13,000 for the election, which is Nov. 3. 

   Norman said the district 
will use money budgeted, but not spent, on an election last November because no one ran in Trustee Area 5. Jasmine Rubio eventually was appointed to that seat. 

   Rubio was selected over two other candidates in December during a process in which they were interviewed and critiqued during a public session. Norman said that system is not comfortable for anyone. 

   With an election, “We don’t 
have to grill anybody in public,” Norman said after the meeting. 

   Hamilton, a political science professor at Mt. San Jacinto College, said having to campaign for a seat shows more effort on a candidate’s part. 

   “You have a candidate that actually knows the community,” he said. 

   San Jacinto Superintendent 
Diane Perez said she is not concerned about the board being one member short for seven months. 

   “Because our board is engaged in our school district and always puts the needs of our students first, I do not foresee any concerns,” she said. 

   This opening arose when Rose Salgado resigned last month. Salgado, who is ill, previously had resigned from the Valley-Wide Park district board and pulled her name from consideration for a seat on the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, which eventually went to Temecula Councilman Chuck Washington. 

   The election will be to represent Trustee Area 1, which covers southern and eastern portions of the district, including Park Hill and the Soboba Indian Reservation. 

   Only voters living in the trustee area will cast ballots. There are about 3,700 registered voters in the area. The term runs until December 2016. 

   The candidates for the Hemet Unified School District seat include a former public official from a prominent area family and two retired 
educators. The seat opened when Lisa DeForest resigned in February because she moved. 

   The candidates are Anthony Connell, John Graham, Heather Hughes, Sandra Males-Madrid, Curt Nordal, Tammy Rivers, Keith Rossi, Christian Ruddell and Patrick Searl. 

   Searl, whose family has a long history in Hemet, previously served on the Valley Health System and Lake Hemet water district boards; Rossi and Graham, who has unsuccessfully sought a trustee seat in the past, are former teachers in the district; and Nordal and Ruddell are Hemet High School graduates. Rivers is a former PTA president at 
Acacia Middle School. Interviews to fill the position begin at 3 p.m. April 7, when it’s expected an appointment will be made and the new trustee will be sworn in to serve the remainder of the term, which expires in December 2016. 


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