The NOCCCD Board of Trustees may hold a special election to fill the Trustee Area 3 position following the appointment of Daniel Billings on August 25.
Billings was one of five applicants who interviewed for this position after the Board advertised for a replacement following the resignation of Donna Miller. He was appointed unanimously by the board at the final round of interviews, but Al Salehi, another applicant, expressed interest in petitioning a conduct of a special election.
Salehi has the right to do so under the official election rules. However, with the cost of mailing out information, pamphlets and publicizing the event, the estimated cost is budgeted to be between $240,000 and $270,000.
“I do think it’s going to cost a lot of money [that can be] better used for a lot of other things, but it’s absolutely Mr. Salehi’s right if he wants to force that election,” Billings said.
The budgeted $240,000 to $270,000 accounts for 100 percent voter turnout. However, in previous elections, 6,000-7,000 voters out of approximately 54,000 typically participate.
According to the Orange County Registrar’s Office, a stand-alone election would cost about $3.80-$4.20 per voter. With an average voter turnout hovering around 7,000, the election would actually cost between $26,600 and $29,400.
According to the NOCCCD’s notice of provisional appointment for the position, in order to hold a special election, anyone interested would have to file a petition containing a “sufficient amount of signatures” of registered voters to the Orange County Superintendent of Schools before September 24.
“It [the process] would be time consuming, and we’d be happy to do that under the normal election cycle,” said Interim Chancellor Fred Williams. “My overall stance is to do what’s legally required, but I don’t think it should be used at this point.”
During a normal election cycle, three or four districts are actually involved in the election. This means the actual cost of the election would go up, as the cost increases for each involved district. A stand-alone district election is the cheapest possible election for NOCCCD.
This provisional appointment would last until the next election in November 2016. However, if Salehi garners enough valid signatures, a special election will be held within 130 days.
Salehi said once enough signatures are accrued, it is no longer only desired by the applicant to contest the appointment but also desired by the people.
Should no one petition for a special election within 30 days of Billings’ August 25 appointment, he will officially be seated as the Trustee Area 3.
“When vacancies occur in Congress, the State Legislature or the County Board of Supervisors, special elections are a requirement,” Salehi said. “In principle, I believe this should be the case for our educational districts as well.”
For more information, visit the NOCCD’s website www.nocccd.edu.
Article updated Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015.