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March 1, 2021

Appoint a New Trustee

GUSD School Board likely to select a new member rather than call
for a special election
Gilroy – Special election or appointment?

Those are the two choices the Gilroy Unified School District board will put on the table at Thursday’s board meeting when deciding how to go about replacing the late TJ Owens, who died Oct. 17 after suffering a massive stroke. He was serving as board president at the time of his death and his seat was up for election in November.

But, according to responses from three board members, a special election is unlikely.

Trustees Pat Midtgaard, Jim Rogers and Jaime Rosso, said they were all leaning toward appointing a new board member.

Each member said a special election was too expensive of a move.

“Frankly with about one year left, I think that an appointment would be best,” said Rogers.

Trustee Jaime Rosso agrees.

“I think the board will lean toward, not a special election but an appointment,” said Rosso. “That’s a position I will support because we’re talking about one year left on the term.”

If the remaining three members vote the same way, the board will assemble a subcommittee of three board members to deal with the process. Applicants for the open seat would have to fill out a written application and sit through a public interview.

Midtgaard, who also serves as board vice president, said she had only discussed the protocol with Superintendent Edwin Diaz because the board can only talk about options with the public present.

“Everything has to be open, of course, and it will be,” she said.

Midtgaard said she had contacted Santa Clara County Office of Education Superintendent Colleen Wilcox who faxed information on the procedure to follow.

Also, Midtgaard consulted the California School Boards Association Web site to ensure that the board follows all rules and regulations.

The board has an assortment of moves to choose from, including holding an election, appointing a candidate or, if time permits, simply making do with one less trustee until the next scheduled election.

The board has to abide by a timeline of 60 days, which means the process has to be complete by Dec. 12. Because two major holidays fall during the period, the board has less time, Midtgaard said.

Because the term runs out in a year and it takes awhile to understand board policies, Rogers, Midtgaard and Rosso, said they would like to appoint a candidate who has some experience.

Said Rogers, “It’s better if someone could have some experience so they could hit the ground running because you don’t want to take that year to learn the ropes and have no further involvement after the election.”

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