Newly elected Lori Crivelli resigned from the Turlock Unified School District (TUSD) Board of Trustees after only being seated for one meeting due to potential conflict of interest. The TUSD Board has had a vacant Trustee position since December 15, 2009.
The TUSD Board must decide how to fill the vacancy left by Crivelli’s resignation within 60 days according to California Government Code Section 1780 and may include appointing a replacement or calling for a special election.
At the Tuesday night, January 5, 2010 TUSD Board Meeting both options were on the agenda and discussed.
A special election appeared to be an unlikely route since there was an election just two months ago and the process of a special election could cost upwards of around $100,000 and take time.
The appointment process is estimated to cost around $500 and could be completed in a month.
John Simms said “Looking at the difference between appointment and holding a special election, I think the arguments for holding a special… There are only two I can come up with. One of them is to let the political process work, let the voters have their say, as one issue and the other is to avoid having five members of the Board of Trustees sitting for election in 2011.”
“That being said, I don’t think those two reasons offset anywhere $60,000 to $90,000 in costs… Those are powerful but not in this environment. I would like to see us move forward with the appointment process.”
Loren Holt pointed out that “I think this is what we have done previously at least three times. I think Mr. Simms was appointed and went through the process, I went through the process, and Ms. Muniz went through the process.”
Board President Frank Lima concluded comments by saying that the voters would have their chance to vote in just under two years rather than immediately.
Lima called for a motion which was offered by Trustee Eileen Hamilton, second by Trustee Josh Bernard, and began calling for votes but not before resident Tanya Abrams interrupted the vote asking for public comment.
Throughout the meeting Lima had been accidently going out of order and referenced being “way off based, totally off balanced” while repeatedly apologizing for not inviting public comment.
Tanya Abrams spoke in favor of the Board not spending money on a special election although didn’t think that the appointment should be opened for the public. Abrams believed that anybody wanting to be on the Board should’ve run in the last election and therefore felt that the appointment should be first offered to the three other candidates who did not win; Timm LaVelle, Felisha Renshaw, or Tammi Muniz (all previous incumbent also).
“To open it up to just whoever, I think personally… mocks the system,” said Abrams.
Turlock Teachers Association President Julie Shipman agreed with and echoed Abrams thoughts.
Shipman said “To open it up to people that didn’t put themselves out to that (the election), isn’t saying much about the position and the work they (other candidates) went through.”
Mark Knapp, citizen of Turlock for 48 years, stated Timm LaVelle should be appointed and said “I think it is a complete sin to even spend a dime, let alone $500, to go through the process.”
Trustee Bob Weaver pointed out that the fourth place person who did not win a seat this last election only lost by about 300 votes, but if Lori Crivelli and her approximate 2,600 votes were to be taken out of the process then it would be unfair to the fifth and sixth place candidates to assume all voting percentages would’ve held to the same outcome.
Trustee Josh Bernard wanted to clarify that “the incumbents that did lose have the equal opportunity to apply for this position and that if they’re picked as the most qualified person then they will be chosen, but this needs to be opened up to the public.”
Tammi Muniz and Timm LaVelle were both in the audience but did not comment.
The TUSD Board unanimously voted to use the appointment process to fill the vacancy left by Lori Crivelli’s resignation.
TUSD Board will have a committee comprised of three Trustees to review and select recommended applicants to interview in public at a Special Board Meeting on February 1, 2010 at 6:00pm. The TUSD Board of Trustees will choose an applicant to appoint at the Special Meeting and the appointee will officially be seated the following day at the Regular Board Meeting on February 2nd.
The appointee will serve for only about two years until the next General Election as required by state law. There will be five TUSD Board of Trustees’ seats up for election in 2011.