San Diego Unified school board trustees Mike McQuary (left) and John Lee Evans (right) / Photos by Jamie Scott Lytle

San Diego Unified school board member John Lee Evans announced early Monday that he would not be seeking re-election next year and dropped several lines about how bad some of his colleagues have been since he was first elected in 2008.

In his post, Evans described the type of person who should run to replace him along with his or her qualifications. “In my decade on the board I would say that three of the nine other members with whom I have served have met this very high level of qualification,” he wrote.

Then he wrote this: “My hope is that a person who meets the above qualifications will be elected to serve in this seat along with our highly qualified board members, Richard Barrera and Sharon Whitehurst-Payne, to continue our reform efforts to improve public education in San Diego.”

That line about existing “highly qualified board members” did not include school board member Mike McQuary, a trustee Evans has served alongside since 2014. McQuary was just re-elected last year and his term will continue through 2022.

Evans clarified that the omission did not mean he did not include McQuary among the list of “highly qualified board members.”

“The 3 highest qualified members are currently on the board, including Dr. Mike,” he wrote on Twitter, using McQuary’s nickname.

The omission may have been a bit of a foreshadowing, though. McQuary told VOSD Monday that he will not be seeking re-election either.

“I believe in two terms. I will not be running in 2022,” McQuary said. “I’m thinking in terms of things I want to do and things I need to do and I want to hand it off at a high point.”

McQuary said he wished Evans would have sought re-election and that continuity for the board has been important.

“He had a good blend of pragmatism, he understood numbers and as a psychologist, he understood kids,” McQuary said.

In his post announcing his decision, Evans said the district during his tenure was a national leader in emphasizing critical thinking and in adopting technology in the classroom, among other accomplishments.

Evans does not have to step down.

Though voters approved term limits for school board members last year, the limit is three terms starting in 2020 and did not count terms served by existing board members.

McQuary said that although he supported term limits capped at three terms, serving two terms was right for him.

Evans said the timing of his decision was aimed at encouraging more qualified candidates to seek the seat – a nod to how tough it can be for school board hopefuls to mount successful campaigns. Several members of the board have run unopposed over the last decade, including Barrera and McQuary.

That’s in part because the unique way San Diego Unified carries out school board elections makes it difficult for anyone without significant resources to run and win – a process that’s currently being challenged via a lawsuit, state legislation and a potential local ballot measure.

Scott Lewis

Scott Lewis oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently...

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