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A third contender has jumped into the school board race between incumbent Luis Acle and challenger Richard Barrera, aiming to outdo Acle in his write-in campaign.

If he succeeds, Albert Velasquez could shut Acle out of the fall primary. Acle, the incumbent, failed to submit enough signatures to get his name on the June ballot. Since then, Acle got a major boost when the city attorney decided that the top two vote-getters in the school board primary would proceed to the November election, regardless of how many votes each won. At the time, Barrera and Acle were the only candidates running.

Velasquez said he is running a write-in campaign to give voters “a positive choice” in District D. Like Barrera, he is a Democrat. Like Barrera, he’s a labor organizer. And like Barrera, he thinks Barrera would be a good choice for school board.

“Richard’s a great candidate,” said Velasquez, who is an organizer with the Service Employees International Union Local 1877 Justice for Janitors campaign. “I want to make sure the community has two positive choices for school board, and Richard is a positive choice as well.”

With only two contenders, the city attorney’s decision meant that Acle could proceed to the fall election with only a single vote, and enjoy an incumbent’s advantage in the fall election.

Velasquez disliked that scenario. He believes Acle is “not a good representation of the community” in light of the Ethics Commission complaints against him. After the city attorney issued its ruling, Velasquez jumped into the race, and has collected more than 300 signatures, he said.

His previous involvement in San Diego Unified includes campaigning for Proposition MM, a $1.51 billion facilities bond that passed in 1998. He has no children, but calls himself “the adopted uncle” to his coworkers’ kids, many of whom attend San Diego Unified schools, he said.

If he and Barrera face off in November, would he keep running?

“I haven’t thought that far yet,” Velasquez said.

Both Velasquez and Acle must submit 200 valid signatures to the county registrar by 5 p.m. Tuesday to qualify as valid write-in candidates.

EMILY ALPERT

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