No, San Diego School Board Elections Didn't End Tuesday


No, San Diego School Board Elections Didn't End Tuesday

The rules require two elections even when a candidate is unopposed or when one person captures a huge share of the primary vote.

Amy Redding was a bit frustrated Wednesday. News reports said the race between Redding and incumbent Kevin Beiser for San Diego Unified school board was over after Beiser scored 68 percent of the vote in their two-way race Tuesday.

“To paraphrase Mark Twain, ‘the reports of my demise are greatly exaggerated,'” Redding said in a press release.

That’s because Redding will face Beiser again in November. And that would have been the case no matter how many votes Beiser or Redding received in the first round of their fight to represent the district’s northeastern neighborhoods.

San Diego school board races require two elections. Period.

Some local elections did end Tuesday, which could have added to the confusion about the school district results. District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and San Diego City Councilwoman Lorie Zapf, for instance, won their races outright because they received more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary. They won’t appear on the November ballot.

But school board races are in a word, unusual, as we detailed in 2010:

 Here is how the unusual system works: Candidates … have to survive two elections. In the June primary, they battle in one of five smaller subdistricts. The top two candidates then advance to the November election, where the entire school district votes.

The system might seem strange: No other K-12 school district in San Diego County is elected this way. It is a hybrid of district elections — in which voters in a small slice of a city or school district elect their own representative — and at-large elections in which the whole area votes.

But it was actually the same way that San Diego used to elect its City Council. Even though the city has no power over the school district, schools’ election rules have been laid out in the city charter since 1939.

Voters scrapped that system for City Council 22 years ago, replacing it with district-only elections to ensure that minorities had a better shot at being heard.

But the system stayed the same for the school board — and attracts the same criticisms.

At the time, the vast majority of California school boards were elected by the entire district. But legal threats alleging minority disenfranchisement were forcing some to change to district-only races.

A big push a few years ago to change San Diego Unified elections died before it reached the ballot. There’s been no major effort to do things differently since.

In Tuesday’s other school board race, Michael McQuary ran unopposed to represent the district’s coastal neighborhoods. He got 100 percent of the vote. But because of the election rules, you’ll see his name on the ballot again in November, too.

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