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Uncontested San Diego Unified Elections May Be Contested After All

Marcia Nordstrom and Tom Keliinoi pose in front of the San Diego County Regis...

Photo by Kris Arciaga

Above: Marcia Nordstrom and Tom Keliinoi pose in front of the San Diego County Registrar of Voters, May 22, 2018.

San Diego School Board Trustees Kevin Beiser and Michael McQuary are running for reelection unopposed — but perhaps not for long. Two San Diegans say they’ve gathered enough signatures to qualify as write-in candidates for the race.

Tom Keliinoi and Marcia Nordstrom plan to submit their 200 signatures each to the San Diego County Registrar of Voters Tuesday, squeaking in just under deadline. The filing period for write-in candidates closes Tuesday.

“It was quite an ordeal for us, even with volunteers going door-to-door, to get all of the signatures,” said Tony Krvaric, chairman of the Republican Party of San Diego County.

He said there are too many barriers to run in school board races — few other positions require as many signatures — which is why his organization is helping Keliinoi and Nordstrom. It is also endorsing the candidates.

“Voters should have a choice,” he said. “San Diego Unified has a lot of things to answer for.”

If the signatures are certified, Keliinoi would challenge Beiser. He runs a property management company and sits on the board of a Serra Mesa charter school. Nordstrom would challenge McQuary. She’s a real estate professional who’s served on the Pacific Beach planning committee and town council.

The registrar also lists Nordstrom as having pulled papers to run in a competitive race for Ron Robert’s seat on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. As of Monday, her campaign website for the race was still live.

San Diego Unified board races have gained attention in recent months as various groups, including city council Republicans, push to reform how trustees are elected. In addition to the signature requirement, candidates must run in expensive city-wide runoffs against longtime incumbents. Many argue such barriers have protected the largely Democratic board from turnover.

Beiser recently told KPBS the lack of challengers was evidence voters are happy with the job he’s done. Under his and his colleagues’ leadership, the district has seen gains in graduation rates and fourth-grade math and reading scores.

Voters would have to correctly write in Keliinoi's and Nordstrom's names to count. But the top two vote-getters in the primary move on to a runoff, meaning even one successful write-in vote would get them on the ballot in November.

San Diego School Board Trustees Kevin Beiser and Michael McQuary are running for reelection unopposed — but perhaps not for long. Two San Diegans say they’ve gathered enough signatures to qualify as write-in candidates for the race.

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