CARLSBAD — The Carlsbad Unified School District (CUSD) Board of Trustees agreed to fill resigning member Kelli Moors’ seat via provisional selection rather than spend nearly $400,000 on a special election at its Aug. 14 meeting.
On Aug. 5, board member Kelli Moors announced that she would be resigning mid-term from the CUSD Board in order to accept a position with the law firm Fagen, Friedman & Fulfrost, which provides legal services to the district under contract.
With her resignation taking effect Sept. 2, the board is left with a vacant seat until the end of Moors’ term in December 2016.
The board had the option of selecting a new member via provisional appointment or arranging a special election.
Due to cost concerns and timeliness, the board members, excluding Moors who refrained from contributing to the discussion and vote, unanimously agreed to select their new member with a provisional appointment next month.
Superintendent Suzette Lovely explained at the meeting that under California Education Code, if the board appointed a fifth member, that member could be sworn in within weeks and would serve until the next regular election Nov. 4, 2014. The district would need to spend $5,617 to add the additional seat to the 2014 ballot.
She said that if the board agreed to allow voters to choose the next member with a special election, Moors’ seat would remain vacant for nearly a year because April 8, 2014 is the next available county election date.
Furthermore, the district would be required to pay about $380,000 for the election from its general fund.
The four board members agreed that while allowing voters to select the next candidate would be ideal, the cost of an election made that option impractical.
Board President Elisa Williamson voiced additional concern that if they did not select a new board member as soon as possible, the remaining four members could not rule on items if tied votes occurred.
“That would almost paralyze the district,” she said.
The board members decided to accept applications until Sept. 5, and publicly interview all eligible candidates and make a selection Sept. 16.
Lovely said that the eligible candidates must be at least 18 years old, a resident within the Carlsbad school district, a registered voter, and able to pass a criminal background check.
As has become a regular occurrence at district meetings, CUSD board member hopeful Sage Naumann criticized the board publicly during the comment period in an attempt to garner support for his own candidacy.
As the only public speaker on the item, he urged the board to select its new member via appointment to save money while also questioning the board members’ efforts and leadership skills without citing any specific examples.
Following his comments, Moors responded to Naumann’s criticisms in her farewell statement to the board, the first time any board member has publicly addressed his derogatory campaigning tactics.
Identifying Naumann by name, Moors said, “I’m appalled by some of the negative whisper campaigns.”
She subsequently recanted saying that Naumann’s statements did not qualify as whispers, seeing as how he has posted accusations of the board on his website and voiced them in public.
About his campaigning tactics she said, “I’m sure it’s beneath the dignity of any candidate for this board.”
Naumann later said that he was not surprised that Moors had called him out after he publicly accused her of acting on a conflict of interest when she voted to extend Fagen, Friedman & Fulfrost’s contract at the board’s July 24 meeting.
“I wouldn’t expect allegations to be met with silence,” he said.
Despite Moors’ pointed comments, Naumann said that he still intended to apply for her seat on the board.