November Ballot Measure Would Change How San Diego Unified School District Board Seats are Elected

Written by Julianne Foster

The San Diego City Council unanimously voted to place a measure on the November ballot that would change the way San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) Board seats are elected. If voters approve this change, it will begin in the 2022 election cycle. 

Currently, voters from anywhere in the districts can vote for and dictate who is elected for any of the SDUSD Board seats (A-E). This change would constrict voters to only voting for the corresponding seat for the district they live in.

For instance, this year’s election features seats A, D, and E. Any voter who lives within the jurisdiction of SDSUD can vote in any of these three elections. If the ballot measure is approved in November, then residents of SDUSD District A would only be able to vote for candidates in District A, and so on.

SDUSD Board candidates Crystal Trull and Sabrina Bazzo (A), Camille Harris (D), and Lawana Richmond (E) are all in favor of this ballot measure. Richard Barerra (D) and Sharon Whitehurst-Payne (E) did not respond to comment requests.

Trull explained that the measure would align SDUSD elections with City Council elections to “ensure continuity and representation.” She also said that the current city-wide campaign model is cost-prohibitive since “reaching nearly one million San Diego voters requires significantly more resources than 80,000 district voters.”

“District-only elections allow candidates to focus more on building relationships with students, families, and schools in their communities instead of constantly wooing donors,” Crystal Trull added. “School board Trustees should be the leaders who put students first, not special interests.”

Trull’s District A opponent, Sabrina Bazzo, also expressed her support for the change, focusing on how it would reform the current campaign requirements in a positive way.

“I am in support of this initiative as it would make things much less complicated for running a school board campaign,” Bazzo told San Diego News Desk. “It is also a more accurate reflection of the voters represented from a specific district to the San Diego Unified School Board.”

The ballot measure was proposed by Parents for Quality Education (PQE), and is something that they have been advocating for three years. The San Diego-based public interest group wishes to ensure that “our communities receive the representation they deserve.” Such changes to the voting process could help limit the ability of candidates to unfairly rise above other by having extra financial and electoral support from other districts.