Gilroy school board candidate ends campaign

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A candidate has dropped out of the race for three seats on the Gilroy school board but missed the deadline for removal, so his name will be on the ballot.

Paul Nadeau said in an emailed statement that he would not be able to serve because of a conflict of interest with his job and that he will resign “immediately” if voters elect him anyway.

His departure from the race all but guarantees the elections of the other three candidates.

If voters elect Nadeau and he resigns, Gilroy Unified School District’s policy on filling the seat will come into play.

“The board would appoint a replacement who would serve until the next regular election,” schools Superintendent Debbie Flores said.

Nadeau, 46, is director of operations for Navigator Schools, which runs the Gilroy Prep charter school.

GP is a public school that operates under authority of the Gilroy Unified School District. The GUSD Board of Trustees votes on funding and other matters related to GP and Navigator.

This year, the board is expected to vote on a request to renew the school’s charter. In the recent past, the board has approved facilities improvements at GP. And with board approval, some of the $170 million in bond funds approved by GUSD voters in June could be spent on the GP campus on IOOF Avenue.

Nadeau said in his statement, “It is with a strong sense of disappointment and remorse that I am withdrawing my bid for the GUSD Board of Trustees. While my name will remain on the ballot (as required by law), I am unable to serve if elected so am asking my supporters to vote for the other qualified and dedicated candidates.”

With the departure of board member Fred Tovar at the end of his term (he is running for the Gilroy City Council), election of the three remaining GUSD candidates would add one new face to the seven-member board, retired GUSD maintenance department employee BC Doyle.

“It kind of makes it easier for me now, it’s three people running for three seats,” Doyle said Oct. 4 of Nadeau’s decision.

Incumbent candidate Mark Good, an attorney, said, “I was not surprised by Mr. Nadeau’s withdrawal as it appeared to be an obvious conflict of interest well before we received a legal opinion. Unfortunately, this has resulted in unnecessary effort and expenses incurred by the other candidates.”

The remaining candidate, incumbent James Pace, a real estate developer, did not respond to requests for comment.

GUSD officials sought legal counsel about a possible conflict after Nadeau filed to run, according to Flores.

“The board recently asked me to seek a legal opinion regarding this question and to make the opinion available to the public,” she said.

“It appears Paul Nadeau would need to immediately resign from either the Board of Education or from employment with Navigator Schools, if he is elected. The attorneys from Navigator Schools agree with this position,” according to Flores.

Nadeau in his statement said, “When I first made the choice to run for the board, I did consult with legal counsel to ensure my bid did not pose a conflict of interest.”

“My counsel advised me that a conflict of interest existed and I sought further counsel from GUSD counsel to see if they concurred. They too concurred with my own counsel’s findings.”

Queried further, Nadeau said he filed very late in the process, possibly on the last day, and did not see his lawyer’s opinion until after he’d filed.

Because Nadeau ended his campaign after the legal limit of 88 days before the election and his name will be on the ballot, he still could be one of the top three vote getters and win a seat.

And, theoretically, he could change his mind, take the seat, recuse himself from matters related to GP and either resign his Navigator job or challenge the conflict of interest opinion.

On Oct. 4, he confirmed he will not challenge the conflict of interest opinion and he will step down if elected. He also apologized to the community.
“While my desire to serve and my commitment to all students in GUSD is still strong, my involvement will have to be as an interested community member and not an elected board member. I am sorry for any inconvenience [my action] has caused to the community. I urge you to vote on election day and I will see you at the polls.”

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