Education office rejects petition for special election

This sign was in front of the old courthouse in June 2014.

The county superintendent of schools affirmed a commissioned attorney’s legal opinion rejecting a petition for a special election over a seat on the Hollister School District Board of Trustees. The decision means appointed Trustee Mike Baldwin will keep his seat.
Board members appointed Baldwin to a vacant trustee position with a 3-1 vote in October. Trustee Peter Hernandez cast the dissenting vote.
Brianna Tavares—one of five candidates the board considered for appointment to the vacant seat—and her mother, Monica Rodriguez, alleged trustees violated the Brown Act because the officials did not discuss the pros and cons of candidates prior to the vote or explain their decisions after it.
When trustees make a provisional appointment to a school board, voters who disagree with the choice—or find error with the appointment process—may file a petition calling for a special election. If that petition meets legal requirements and has enough verified signatures, it triggers a special election.
Randy Riddle, of the Renne Sloan Holtzman Sakai Public Law Group, found the petition did not comply with a section of election code that requires a notice about the paid status of circulators appear before—not after— the section where voters sign the petition so they can see it prior to deciding whether to sign. Riddle shared this with county superintendent of schools, Krystal Lomanto, in a letter of opinion that she forwarded by email to the Free Lance. Lomanto could not be reached immediately for comment. The county office of education sought out the legal opinion from Riddle.
Community members had to collect at least 265 qualified signatures—or 1.5 percent of the registered voters of the district at the time of the last election of board members—to force a special election, said Angela Curro, the assistant county clerk-recorder-registrar of voters, in a November conversation with the Free Lance.
Curro’s office would verify signatures on a petition and, if an election is called, would run the special election, she told the Free Lance this week. The county superintendent of schools is responsible for checking the legality of the petition and if it doesn’t meet requirements, it can’t go any further in the process, she explained.
The cost of a special election for the district was estimated at $126,000, but the actual cost of the most recent one for a measure in 2011 was $146,316, according to an email from Curro in November. That estimate does not include any potential costs to the county superintendent of schools, she added in a phone conversation with the Free Lance that month.

Leave your comments