First published in the Feb. 17 print issue of the San Marino Tribune
San Marino voters might face an unusual number of choices when they see their ballots for the Nov. 1 election. For possibly the first time ever, four of San Marino’s five school board seats could be contested.
Current board vice president Jane Chon, who was elected in 2020, is currently serving the second year of her four-year term, but the remainder of the panel could be in flux.
Under normal circumstances, the seats held by C. Joseph Chang and Shelley Ryan would be contested in November, but that number was doubled when Corey Barberie and Julie Chan Lin resigned in 2021. Nam Jack and Mike Killackey were appointed to serve out their terms, but under state law an appointed candidate serving in a vacated seat may only serve until the next regularly scheduled election.
Since Barberie was elected in 2018, the seat currently occupied by Jack will be contested in November, with the successful candidate receiving a four-year term. Chan Lin was elected in 2020 and resigned in early 2021, meaning the seat currently occupied by Killackey will be contested, with the successful candidate earning the final two years of the seat.
Responses to the question “are you running in November?” are as complicated as the possibilities.
“I am very seriously considering it,” said Ryan, who was first elected to the board in 2013. A year was added to the terms of all sitting board members in 2017 to standardize election cycles and Ryan was re-elected in 2018.
Chang is believed to be the longest-serving board member in the history of the San Marino Unified School District, having been first elected in 2001 and now serving his fifth term. Chang has not yet announced whether he will seek a sixth term.
“It is too early to say,” said Chang, when asked if he was tossing his proverbial hat into the ring at the November election. “We have to make sure that the continuity, stability and education quality of the SMUSD are there in the next four years.”
Chang added that his “experience, leadership and resources are still vital to the school community.”
Jack was first elected to the San Marino School Board in 2009 and re-elected four years later. She chose not to defend her seat at the November 2018 election but applied for Barberie’s seat when he resigned and was selected by the board to fill out his term.
“It is a little too early for me to make a decision,” Jack said Monday. “I love this school district more than I could possibly express and would like more time to think about a candidacy.”
Killackey ran twice and lost before applying for the seat vacated by Chan Lin and was selected in June to hold that seat until the November election.
“It has been a deeply satisfying opportunity to be a part of our board of education and to contribute to providing our students the highest quality education available,” Killackey said. “As our board begins the important and comprehensive task of a superintendent search, I am dedicated to helping complete an exhaustive search. I have not yet focused on November’s election because our superintendent search is the most important job our board faces at this time. Once our next superintendent is named, I will then turn my attention to deciding whether I will announce a candidacy.”
The term of Superintendent Linda de la Torre ends on June 30 and the board has strategically waited until this spring to launch a search for her replacement.