OC Board of Education unusually divided over new trustee pick – Orange County Register

It took nine nominations and six different votes before Orange County Board of Education members agreed attorney Jorge Valdes would join them as their newest colleague on the dais.

The four-member board — which typically votes in sync on nearly everything — deadlocked repeatedly on Wednesday, Aug. 17, with three abstaining at different times.

Three candidates applied to take the spot left vacant by Beckie Gomez, who resigned effective July 1.

The candidates were Valdes, a Tustin resident and workers compensation defense attorney; Cecilia Iglesias, a former Santa Ana councilwoman and Santa Ana Unified School Board member; and Tustin resident Marlene Barba, who works in church ministry.

During a brief interview session with board members, the candidates voiced similar positions to that of the conservative trustees, speaking often about parents’ rights and choices to decide what’s best for their children.

Board members expressed support for all three.

“The candidate pool was small but mighty,” Board President Lisa Sparks said.

But then it came time to vote.

Trustee Ken Williams moved to appoint Iglesias, and seconds later, Trustee Tim Shaw moved to appoint Valdes.

When neither motion got a second nod to proceed, Williams again nominated Iglesias.

Zilch. Back to square one, Shaw again nominated Valdes. This time, Sparks seconded his motion, but Williams and Trustee Mari Barke abstained.

“It fails because you don’t have three votes,” Williams said.

Sparks quietly commented: “This is going to be interesting.”

That began a series of votes that failed one after another.

No trustee voted against any of the candidates, choosing instead to abstain each time — except for Shaw, who not only voted each time but also switched his support between Valdes and Iglesias a few times in hopes of breaking the gridlock.

“I voted for Ceci and George (Valdes,) what, five times now?” Shaw said to his colleagues.

Shaw repeatedly nominated Valdes, with Sparks’ support. But Barke and Williams abstained. Williams repeatedly nominated Iglesias, with Shaw’s support. But Barke and Sparks abstained.

Finally, Shaw nominated Valdes once again, joined by both Barke and Sparks. They attained their three votes; Williams abstained.

“There was no way we could leave that meeting without appointing somebody,” Shaw said Thursday. “It would have cost a lot of money to have a special election. All three were great applicants. We just had to get three votes.”

Board members faced a 60-day deadline to appoint a replacement for Gomez, who resigned after she was sued over an alleged conflict of interest because she served on both the county’s Board of Education and the Tustin City Council. (Gomez — often the lone dissenting vote on the board — said she did not have a conflict but did not want to shoulder the expense of the lawsuit.)

Before the candidates’ statements and interviews began, Shaw announced “out of a spirit of abundant transparency,” that he once worked with Iglesias.

“I was her boss,” Shaw said. “I don’t think that precludes me from voting here this evening.”

Barke then said: “Well, I guess if we’re doing transparency, then I better say that I worked with Ceci and still do today sometimes.”

Barke is a consultant for the libertarian non-profit California Policy Center where Iglesias works as the director of Latino engagement and is the founder of the group’s “Parent Union.”

Asked whether they should have recused themselves from voting, both Shaw and Barke maintained in interviews Thursday that they did not have a conflict of interest.

“I stated out loud that we worked together to make it fully transparent,” said Shaw, adding he worked as a district director for former state Sen. Bob Hoff and Iglesias was a field representative. “There’s no legal conflict.”

Barke said she initially abstained from voting on both Iglesias and Valdes because Iglesias works for the same organization and Valdes was her competitor. But then, when the four trustees repeatedly deadlocked on two votes for, two abstentions, she decided to act.

“It just became evident it would be bad for the taxpayers if I sat it out,” Barke said.

“I felt very conflicted,” Barke added. “I really don’t like to see people abstain unless there’s a good reason.”

“I’m used to all of us voting together,” she said.

Iglesias most recently served on the Santa Ana City Council until a recall drive funded by the Santa Ana Police Officers Association removed her from her post in 2020, a year after she voted against raises for police officers.

During Wednesday’s meeting, candidates were asked whether they plan to seek re-election if appointed. Valdes, Barba, and Iglesias (who is also running for Santa Ana mayor) said they would.

Valdes will represent Trustee Area 1, which includes Fountain Valley, Santa Ana, portions of Garden Grove, and Tustin through the remainder of the term in 2024.



Read original article here

Denial of responsibility! WebToday is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – [email protected]. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Leave a comment