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Chatom Union School District Board of Trustees to change election process

The Chatom Union School District Board of Trustees took the first step towards a transition from an at-large election process to a by-trustee area election process at their meeting Tuesday night.

 With this move, aspiring candidates will now be required to reside in specific trustee areas within the district’s boundaries and must be elected by voters who reside in the same boundaries to be considered for a Board position.

Currently with the at-large election process, the Board considers candidates for positions as long as they reside within the district’s boundaries and are elected by all voters who reside within the district.

 “The Chatom Union School Board has been looking into the by-trustee election process. Although it is an important item, it is not time sensitive because our Board election cycle is in 2015,” said Superintendent Cherise Olvera. “Our Board wanted to take the time to carefully look into the matter and do it right.”

Several districts in the area have already made the transition to a by-trustee area election process in hopes of electing board members that will better identify with the community they are representing.

Board member Steve Soderstrom was concerned with the possibility that the Board would not be able to fill a vacancy from particular trustee areas.

Present at the meeting to answer the Board’s questions was attorney David Saldoni, who has been assisting districts with this transition since 2007.

“I will tell you in the 50 to 60 times where we have done this transition, we have had areas with vacancies,” said Saldoni. “However, we have never had a situation where someone did not ultimately come forward.”

Saldoni also told the Board that it was possible to go back to the at-large election process in the event that the by-trustee area election process did not suit the district.

The Board unanimously approved action and selected a trustee area map that will move the district towards a by-trustee area election process. A formal resolution is set to be presented to the Board at their next meeting on Oct. 14.