When Kansen Chu left the Berryessa school board in June to take up his new position as the new San Jose City Council member for District 6, the school board went through a perfectly reasonable and open process to fill the vacancy. A list of 17 candidates was whittled down to five semifinalists and finally down to two very qualified people, Alkesh Desai and David Neighbors, that were considered by the four sitting members of the board. When the vote split two for each, rather than opting for a very expensive by-election to fill the spot which is up for regular election next year in November anyway, the board rightly agreed to abide by a coin toss to decide the winner—a completely legal and common method of settling the matter. The coin toss favored Desai who was considered duly elected and installed as the fifth member of the board. The board and Mr. Neighbors accepted the outcome, and there were no complaints from the public. Case closed? Not quite.
Two complete numbskulls, Dale Warner and Diane Kruger, decided that they would write a petition and attempt to collect enough signatures to force an election that would cost the district $478,600 of much needed funds for the education of the area’s children. To force the election, they need valid signatures from 1.5 percent of the district’s registered voters, a total of only 460. Can they honestly obtain that many signatures under the circumstances? Why would they do something so obviously ill-considered?
The board had the right to fill the vacancy by appointment until the next general election. When the four board members agreed to abide by the results of the coin toss, they, in effect, agreed to a unanimous decision as to the winner. It’s the same as casting four votes for Desai. Whatever the method of arriving at the decision, the decision was made and it is completely in keeping with the law and democratic principles. What’s more, the public has not objected in any of the dozen school board meetings since the election of Desai.
The only reason for Warner’s and Kruger’s action is that they do not agree with the decision and they want to manufacture an opportunity to draw attention to themselves and attempt to influence a different outcome. They don’t care that it comes at the expense of children.
Residents of the area are scornful of this feeble, small-minded attempt by the two petitioners to get attention, and view their motivation as a bad case of sour grapes. Warner failed in his previous run for election to the school board and Kruger was a trustee for six years but was removed by the citizens in a recall election. With their attempt to circumvent a perfectly legitimate public process and waste half a million dollars of public money, they have proven the voters to be correct in their assessment that Warner and Kruger are unfit to be public trustees. I have a sneaking idea that if an election is forced, the turnout will be higher than usual and most would vote for Desai no matter who else is on the ballot. Fortunately, it appears the vast majority of the voters in Berryessa believe that Warner’s and Kruger’s callous attempt at wasting $478,600 that would be better used to educate children in already difficult financial circumstances is wrongheaded.