The Saugus Union School District voted unanimously to appoint someone to fill the vacant seat left by former board member Cassandra Love’s resignation — which was accepted during Wednesday’s board meeting.
Love, a civil attorney who was first elected to the board in November 2022, said she was stepping down from office because her son had an illness that required her attention. Love was present at the meeting and made a statement before the board’s vote.
She lamented her decision to step down and spoke highly of the board, its members and of the time she spent serving on it. While disappointed in her own decision, Love also recognized its necessity in order to continue “the great things that everyone has already been doing long before I came and will continue to do long after I’ve stepped down.”
“I didn’t take this decision lightly and it’s a difficult one and I’m very saddened by that,” said Love. “But I hope that some of the qualified members in our community will step up to take on this challenging but really, really rewarding role.”
Love also noted that she hoped the process to replace her would not “devolve into politics or distractions” but rather hoped the board would find a candidate who is “passionate, but also thoughtful and intelligent, methodical, strong (and) exercises good judgment.”
“What a great example you are stepping up but also putting your family first. Thank you for your time with us and we will continue to stay in touch,” said board President Katherine Cooper. “Thank you again. I’m sorry that you’re having to go through this but just know that you have our support and appreciate the time spent here.”
When it came time to vote, board member Matthew Watson was a little confused as to how much money the board would save by not opening the seat for an election and expressed his desire for the community to decide who would fill it.
“I’m a little less clear than I was before,” said Watson. “My opinion is, I would prefer that our community vote on what’s to be done with this seat. However, the cost is certainly a factor.”
After being advised that appointing someone would save the board approximately $16,000 and that there was a likelihood that someone would fill the seat by Christmas, Nelson was satisfied and voted in favor for an appointment.
The board still has the option to hold a special election if, for any reason, a viable candidate is not found or agreed upon. The board has 60 days to make an appointment or decide to hold a special election.
The announcement of the beginning of the candidate application process is required to be published in local media outlets and will be soon, according to Superintendent Colleen Hawkins.
Candidates will need to be at least 18 years old, a resident of both California and Trustee Area No. 1 (Love’s former seat) and can’t have been previously convicted of a felony. If the appointee is already a district employee, they must resign before being sworn in.
A subcommittee will be created to vet applicants while the board as a whole will conduct interviews with those deemed eligible by the subcommittee.
The board said it could discuss the matter further at its next meeting on Oct. 10.