Saugus Union School District officials clarify how board member’s resignation affects November election
After Laura Arrowsmith announced her resignation Tuesday from her position as representative of Trustee Area No. 2, Saugus Union School District officials clarified how her decision will impact voters in November.
In short: It’s too late for her name to be removed from the ballot, so if she still gets the most votes, the district board would have to choose whether to appoint a replacement or hold a special election.
During a special public session meeting on Tuesday, Arrowsmith said she was stepping down from her position, saying she and her family would be moving out of Trustee Area No. 2. Arrowsmith and Anna Griese are slated to be on the ballot in the November general election for Trustee Area No. 2.
“A sudden, unexpected, and amazing opportunity presented itself and my family decided it was worth pursuing even though it would take use out of Trustee Area No. 2,” Arrowsmith wrote in an email. “We made the decision to move, as I later found out, after the deadline to remove my name from the ballot had passed.”
Arrowsmith said she will not actively campaign — no website, literature, signs, endorsements or participating in candidate forums.
“SUSD is an impressive organization, one with classified staff, teachers, administrators, and district leadership committed to students and their learning,” she wrote in the email. “I have found SUSD teachers and staff to be an experienced, talented, creative and knowledgeable team of educators who regularly inspired me with their dedication to continuous movement.”
Arrowsmith added she was grateful for the opportunity to serve her community and students.
“On behalf of the governing board we want to thank Mrs. Arrowsmith for her almost four years of service to SUSD,” Chris Trunkey, president of the board, wrote in an email. “We wish her well in her new home and know that she will continue to serve the SCV community as an outstanding educator.”
However, her resignation left some community members wondering how her decision would affect the general election in November.
Mike Sanchez, media and communications representative for the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, said pursuant to the Elections Code, Arrowsmith’s name will still appear on the ballot and voters could still vote for her.
Superintendent Colleen Hawkins also spoke with Alex Olvera, a representative of the Registrar’s Office, who indicated Arrowsmith’s resignation occurred following the close of filing.
“This is in compliance with the voting laws and is out of the hands of the district, the candidates, the board, or the Registrar’s Office,” Hawkins wrote in an email.
“Should she receive the most votes, the office becomes vacant because of her resignation, and then it could be filled by appointment or special election pursuant to the Education Code,” Sanchez said.
After the certification of the election, on or around Dec. 5, the district will understand its next steps, according to district officials.
“Should Arrowsmith be elected, the district can choose to initiate a special election or can use the process outlined in Board Bylaw 9223 to appoint a representative from the trustee area,” Hawkins wrote in an email. “Because the election has not concluded, I cannot comment on what the district will do as we will need to follow the path selected for us by the voters.”
From her conversation with Olvera, most municipalities, when faced with this situation, will appoint an individual because it is less costly than organizing a special election, which would occur immediately following a general election.
According to Olvera, special elections are often an unexpected cost to municipalities such as a school district, and is not always fiscally responsible.
BB 9223, which explains the process for any board appointment, states the board must advertise the solicitation of candidate applications or nomination in local media.
“A committee consisting of less than a quorum of the board shall ensure that applicants are eligible for board membership and announce the names of the eligible candidates,” BB 9223 states. “The board shall interview the candidates at a public meeting, accept oral or written public input, and select the provisional appointee by a majority vote.”
According to Hawkins, the district does not involve itself in the election process other than the district files for the election to occur.
“If you read our (Facebook) page, you will see the process we use for candidate orientation and our comments that we do not participate in any aspect of the election process,” Hawkins wrote in an email.