Filling the void
Pasadena school board set to review applications for district’s open at-large seat
By André Coleman 05/23/2013
The Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education will begin screening applications next week in hopes of filling a two-year board vacancy, a byproduct of the decision to change elections in the Pasadena Unified School District from at large to districts.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the six sitting board members will begin poring over 38 applications for the seat left open by Board member Kim Kenne’s decision to leave that post and seek a four-year term in her newly created District 1. Board members Ramon Miramontes and Ed Honowitz did not seek re-election in March, and Tyron Hampton won the April runoff for the new District 3 seat. With incumbent Board members Scott Phelps and Elizabeth Pomeroy winning re-election in their respective districts, and Board President Renatta Cooper and Board member Tom Selinske still serving their previous terms in Seats 4 and 6, respectively, one seat remains open.
From the pool of candidates for the job, board members will select eight names for consideration and rank them in descending order. The top three rankings will receive four, three and two points, respectively, and the remaining five will each receive one point.
After all of the points are added, the top-ranked applicants will be interviewed by the board early next month. From there, board members will once again rank their choices until someone is chosen. The at-large board member will serve until the seat, along with the two remaining seats — 2, 4, 6 — sunset in 2015
“Hopefully we will have some consensus or commonality on the top six to eight candidates and then they will be invited back for interviews in June,” said Cooper. “I am hoping we will be able to reach clear consensus. I know there are people who are trying to organize to push for an election, which would be very expensive, and most likely voter turnout would be very low and take money away from the kids. “
According to City Clerk Mark Jomsky, his office has not received the necessary paperwork required to start a petition to collect signatures for a special election.
The vacant board seat has left several political factions jockeying for position. Some residents in Sierra Madre are upset that they have no local representation on the board. Sierra Madre is represented by Seat 6, which does not come up for election until 2015.
Board members themselves also have a stake in the winner, because with a 3-3 divide, the appointee could shift the balance to either side.
Also, some Latino residents in Altadena and Pasadena are unhappy because the change to the voting system from an at-large to a neighborhood system, which was specifically designed to produce more Latino board members, left the district with no elected Latino representation.