HAYWARD — Disheartened with a "fake, phony and fraudulent" selection process that she says left applicants "humiliated," former Assemblywoman Audie Bock said this week that she intends to collect signatures that would put the matter of a temporary schools trustee to a public vote in a special election.
Bock was one of 10 candidates vying for the seat vacated by Sarah Gonzales, who left earlier this year citing health and family reasons. Board members voted 3-1 to appoint former Hayward City Manager Jesus Armas to join them until the November election, at which point three seats will be up for grabs.
However, Bock called the interviewing and appointment process — which culminated on March 17 — a "sham" that saw no discussion on merits in a field of worthy candidates.
"This is not an attack on anybody," she said. "It's attacking the process because it was totally screwed up. Normally there's a week between the interviews and the appointment so they could think of who would make the best candidate."
Trustees had a brief discussion about a possible conflict of interest involving Armas' wife, who works as a human resources manager in the district, before a motion was made to appoint him.
Board President Paul Frumkin said that they reviewed all the written applications submitted by the candidates and that no decision was made until the interviews were conducted.
"They all had good qualifications, and we set aside
Applicant Kelly Rocchio agreed with Bock that there should have been more discussion.
"I expected them to discuss what things they are looking for in a trustee, and say which applicants represent what they would like to see," she said. "I would have preferred to hear some deliberation, but there was none."
But Rocchio disagreed that a special election is a good idea, and said that since the seat is up in November, they should just move forward at this point.
District officials said a special election would cost upward of $300,000, far more than the $50,000 it would have cost had it been piggybacked with the June 8 primary. But it's too late for that.
Bock said there's a principle at stake that outweighs the price.
"If they are not going to do the appointment in an open, correct manner, but rather they're going to do it fraudulently, then we have to have an election," she said. "It's our democratic right."
Eric Kurhi covers Hayward. Contact him at 510-293-2473. Read our blog at www.ibabuzz.com/hayward.