(March 2, 2006) -- In response to our inquiry, Becky Burleson of the LB City Clerk's office indicates that conducting a special election to fill the School Board seat to which incumbent Schoolboardmember Suja Lowenthal filed for reelection but says she'll abandon if she finishes first in a "winner take all" special election for the Council seat vacated by Dan Baker [who endorsed her for School Board] -- is estimated to cost roughly [very rough estimate] $90,000.
The cost would be borne by the LB Unified School District (or more accurately its taxpayers)...while parents (and students) at some schools have been asked to raise funds themselves to maintain some programs the School District has reduced citing fiscal constraints.
The last LB School Board special election was triggered by the death of Boardmember Ed Eveland and cost roughly $161,000 in the SE area School Board district with roughly 59,000 registered voters. Lowenthal's south-central area LB School Board district currently has roughly 31,000 registered voters, meaning a commensurately lower cost for ballots, polling places Ms. Burleson estimates.
Suja Lowenthal faces an opponent on the April School Board ballot (backed by the Teachers Union of LB) who Lowenthal said in a Feb. 8 statement "appears to be a roving candidate, moving from place to place, looking for any office in which he could run." She added, "It is heartening that a court of law [has] identified his rhetoric as false, and disallowed it. It is my hope that the public will view any campaign material he subsequently disseminates with the same degree of skepticism as that applied by the court..."
In her ballot statement asking voters to reelect her to the School Board, Lowenthal said in part, "Dr. Lowenthal is committed to continuing to improve our award-winning schools and ensuring that our children remain the focus..."
But after 2d Councilman Dan Baker abruptly resigned on Feb. 7, School Board reelection candidate Lowenthal told the Press-Telegram (in a Feb. 25 article) she'll seek the Council seat and won't pursue her School Board reelection...although her name will still appear on the School Board ballot (it's too late to remove it) and she could still be reelected to the School Board.
So, if Suja Lowenthal were reelected to the School Board in April but doesn't win the special Council election in June, will she give up her School Board seat...having shown her school district constituents she was ready to give them up?
If she's elected to the Council, could the School Board appoint her successor (depriving her school district constituents of an elected representative?)
Can a candidate file papers to run a valid write-in campaign in the April School Board race against both incumbent Lowenthal and her Teachers' Union-backed opponent? (Mayor Beverly O'Neill waged a successful write-in campaign in 2002 and Vice Mayor Jackie Kell is attempting one now).
Answers to these questions are pending with the City Clerk's office; we'll report answers when we get them.
LBReport.com emailed Suja Lowenthal on Feb. 25 inviting her to provide a statement on the reason(s) for her decision to seek the Council seat. We've received no response to date.
Suja Lowenthal is daughter-in-law to state Senator Alan Lowenthal (D., LB-SP-PV) and 1st district Councilwoman Bonnie Lowenthal.