Among the proposals on the San Diego ballot this November will be a measure calling for San Diego Unified School District’s five board members to be elected from within their sub-district, rather than at-large.
A majority vote will be required to pass the San Diego ballot measure Nov. 3.
The City Council unanimously approved the SDUSD ballot measure on July 7. Proponents claim the measure if passed, would lead to a more diverse candidate pool in elections for the state’s second-largest school district.
“I am thrilled that this City Council is allowing voters to decide on district-only elections for the San Diego Unified School Board,” said District 4 Councilmember Monica Montgomery, who is African American. “From day one, I have been a firm supporter of this effort. It is crucial that the people most impacted select the person who represents their communities and their interests.”
Presently SDUSD’s board has three White board members, one Black and one Latino board member. Demographically, 24 percent of SDUSD’s approximately 102,000 students are white, 44 percent are Hispanic or Latino, 7 percent are Black and 10 percent are Asian. There are also Filipino, American Indian, or multiracial students in the district.
Dr. Michael McQuary, SDUSD trustee representing District C, which includes schools in Council Districts 1 and 2 with students in Point Loma, La Jolla and Mission and Pacific beaches, discussed the proposed school district election change.
“The current election of SDUSD board members is both a ‘district only’ and an ‘at-large’ system, which requires all candidates running for a school board position to live in the sub-district they seek to represent,” said McQuary. “During the ‘district only’ primary, only the voters registered in that sub-district can vote for the candidates, who seek to represent the sub-district in which they live.”
McQuary noted the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes in the “district only” primary then face off in an “at-large” general election, meaning that all of the registered voters across all five districts can vote for either of the two candidates in the general election.
McQuary added this hybrid blend of both a “district only” and an “at-large” election system results in elected board members who primarily represent the sub-district in which they live, and who have demonstrated a capacity to represent the larger body of all registered voters across all five sub-districts.
“The intent of the current system, as I see it, is to ensure that every sub-district is represented on the board by someone who lives in their primary sub-district and understands the ‘district only’ needs, well as someone who also understands the ‘at-large’ needs of the citywide constituency across the whole district,” he said.