San Diego Unified is the only school district in the county slated to pay for printing the statements describing candidates in the sample ballot mailed to voters this fall. And one of those candidates is arguing that it’s wasteful.
The school district has paid for the statements in general elections since the school board decided to do so in 1982, said Cathy Glaser, election processing supervisor at the San Diego County Registrar. San Diego Unified officials wrote the registrar in December, affirming that the district would again cover those costs.
Glaser said in the last election nearly two years ago, paying for the statements cost the school district $43,000 for five candidates, including both incumbents and challengers. The exact costs this time around won’t be known until after the election. There are four candidates vying for two seats.
Other public agencies also foot the bill for candidate statements, such as the Bonita-Sunnyside Fire Protection District, but San Diego Unified is the only local school district planning to do so. Other school systems require the candidates to pay those costs themselves; San Diego Unified only requires candidates to pay during the June primary race.
Steve Rosen, a business owner running for the school board seat currently occupied by Katherine Nakamura, says the fees are a waste of money. Rosen, who opposes a parcel tax to bring new revenue into the school district, is touting the expense as one example of waste that could be cut before the school district turns to voters.
“A fresh set of eyes is needed to replace the blurred assumptions of the current Board,” a press release from Rosen’s campaign reads.
Nakamura, who is weighing a write-in campaign after being knocked out in the primary, countered that the fee isn’t a huge issue compared to larger budget problems. The school district faces an estimated $127 million deficit next year.
Paying for the candidate statements helps less wealthy candidates get into the school board race, which is expensive because candidates run across the whole school district. That isn’t as pressing of a problem for the other, smaller school districts in the county, Nakamura said.
“It’s in order to create equity,” Nakamura said.
— EMILY ALPERT