Thursday night Republicans endorsed for Board of Education sitting member John Weldon, 2015 petitioning mayoral candidate Chris Taylor and Black Rock realtor Diane Rello to four-year terms. They also endorsed former board member Jim Carbone to fill out the four-year term vacancy of Kevin McSpirit who was replaced by Weldon, per appointment by Mayor Joe Ganim. The City Attorney’s Office cited state law that allows the mayor to fill school board vacancies if the board does not act within 30 days. As a result ambiguity had been created about the number of school board slots open this cycle. Retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez graciously shared legal insight (see here) about the number of school board seats open this year. Her interpretation was backed by the City Attorney’s Office. On Friday OIB asked her to share her take on the number of candidates that may be endorsed by the parties. Her legal read is that it appears the Republicans acted appropriately.
She explained that the two-year McSpirit seat is the equivalent of a special election to fill a vacancy, and is separate from the election of five people to four-year terms.
There are many scenarios that have to play out, but the bottom line is that both parties can nominate three people for the four-year seats.
As I said earlier, for purposes of minority representation, the two-year seat is filled first. This makes sense because you are filling a vacancy on the existing board. Once that is done, assuming a Democrat wins that two-year seat, there will be four Democrats on the Board.
Therefore, although the Democrats can nominate three people for the four-year seat, only two Democrats can be elected due to the requirements of the minority representation statute. In the unlikely (snow falling in Miami in July) scenario that a Republican wins the two-year seat, then three Democrats can be elected to four-year terms without violating the minority representation statute.
Therefore, both parties should nominate three candidates to the three four-year terms that are available, because we cannot anticipate the results of the election to fill the two-year term.