September 26, 2021
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School Board establishes By-Trustee election districts

By: Cassandra May Albaugh
March 13, 2020

The regularly scheduled board meeting of the Cotati Rohnert Park Unified School District was held on Mar. 10 in the Mountain Shadows Educational Center at 7165 Burton Ave. in Rohnert Park. This served as the fifth mandated public hearing required to transition from At-large board to By-trustee district elections. 

A team consisting of the board’s law firm and the contracted demographer once more gave a short presentation about the process and the three proposed maps. Again, no public comment was received.  After the public hearing, the board trustees peppered the presenters with questions about each of the three maps, the impacts on the City of Cotati or the Latino population within the school district. After each board member had their questions answered it was time to vote on a map and select a sequence for elections in 2020 and 2022.

Trustee Nonn made a motion to adopt Map C and sequence District 3 and 5 for election in 2020 and Districts 1, 2, and 4 for the 2022 ballot. Trustee Gillies seconded the motion. The motion failed 3-2 with Board President Brown, Trustee Cimino, and Trustee Wiltermood voting no. Then Cimino made a motion to adopt Map B and sequence 3 and 5 for 2020 and 1, 2 and 4 for the 2022 ballot. That motion passed unanimously, 5-0. This lengthy transition is almost over. Folks now know what the district boundaries are and when they’ll be able to vote for a school board trustee. But let’s look at Map B and drill down a bit.

District 1 currently has both Board President Brown and Board Clerk Gillies within its boundary. For 2020 that has no impact because their terms don’t expire until 2022. However, if both decide to run for re-election in 2022, they’ll have to run against each other. 

Trustee Cimino and Trustee Wiltermood both live in District 2. Cimino’s term expires in 2022 but Wiltermood’s term expires this year. Since there is already has a board member through 2022, Wiltermood can’t run for reelection unless she moves to District 3 or 5 which isn’t likely. She could choose to run for the board again in 2022 against Cimino or other candidates living in her district.

District 3 is centered around Southwest Blvd, Technology Middle School, Technology High School and the District Office. It has the highest Latino voting age population at over 22 percent and currently has no board member living within the district. The fact that Map B and District 3 had the highest population of Latino voters, a community of interest meeting the spirit of the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA), seems to have been a key factor in selecting this map and sequencing it for the 2020 ballot.

District 4 will be on the ballot in 2022. This district is the largest in area and population, however it only has 328 more voters than the smallest district which is District 5. This district includes the City of Cotati, L Section in Rohnert Park, as well as the unincorporated areas south of Rohnert Park Expressway and on either side of Stony Point Road south, down to West and East Railroad Avenues. There just wasn’t enough population in the City of Cotati for them to have their own district without violating the legal requirements of the law for equal size districts by voting population.

In 2020, District 5 will be on the ballot. Currently Trustee Nonn resides within the boundaries of this district. The district is basically M Section on the East Side of Rohnert Park and along Petaluma Hill Road. It includes the Rancho Cotate High School and Sonoma State campuses. Nonn’s term expires in 2020 so if he wants, he could run for reelection. He hasn’t announced whether he wants to run again so far.

The decision has been made. If you live in District 3 or 5 and want to serve on the school board you can now file your paperwork, organize your campaign and step up to help lead the school district forward through 2024. Remember, after the census this year, sometime in 2021, the board is likely to have to adjust boundaries based on new data. But those adjustments will likely be minor compared to the process the board has just completed.