The eight candidates seeking the open seat on the Saugus Union School District’s governing board were invited to a special applicants-only meeting Wednesday, according to Superintendent Colleen Hawkins.
In an attempt to prepare the candidates for the experience and the questions, Hawkins, who said it was her first appointment process since joining the district in 2018, wanted to invite the qualified applicants to share with them what next week’s special board meeting will be like.
The Saugus district scheduled a public meeting for 5:30 p.m. Oct. 25 in order to select a replacement for Cassie Love, the board member who was elected to represent Trustee Area No. 1 in November. Love announced her resignation Sept. 18, saying it was effective Oct. 2. She said she needed to spend more time with a child who was dealing with an illness. Area No. 1 includes the western-most portion of SUSD, bordering Tesoro del Valle in the north and West Creek Park/McBean Parkway on the eastern side, and the southern tip of the trustee area hitting Valencia Boulevard. The eight candidates who have applied for the seat with the proper qualifications are (in alphabetical order): Aakash Ahuja; Jennifer Alamdari; Patricia Garibay; Jesus Henao; Cody Jacobs; Kevin Kim; Jacqueline Stroh and Kathleen Walker.
The district’s appointment process is expected to be conducted with open votes and in the public with no closed-session discussion, according to Hawkins. She said she will not be giving the candidates the questions they’ll be asked next week at Wednesday’s meeting, but they will get sample questions, as well as an opportunity to ask their own questions. Hawkins said it was important that the information from any answers given to candidates is shared with all of them.
Hawkins said the previous two people to vacate the board under her tenure — Julie Olsen in July 2020 and Laura Arrowsmith in September of last year — happened relatively close to a scheduled election, so the board was able to fill the vacancy in the following November without an appointment or special election.
Love was approaching the end of her first year in office after being first elected in 2022 by a margin of 260 votes over Henao, 2,983 votes to 2,723.
According to state law, a school board candidate must be at least 18 years of age or older; a citizen of the state; a resident of the school district (and for SUSD, a resident of the trustee area); a registered voter; and not disqualified by the constitution or laws of the state from holding a civil office, according to the California School Boards Association.
The special meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Oct. 25 at the district’s office at 24930 Avenue Stanford in Valencia.