The Hollister School District Board of Trustees is set to hold a public hearing Nov. 26 on maps that will determine how the district is represented. The board will consider seven different map scenarios.
Superintendent Diego Ochoa is leading the charge to switch the school board member election process from an at-large system—where candidates may reside anywhere within the district’s boundary—to a by-trustee area election system. The latter system divides the school district into designated trustee areas. From there, voters elect a school board trustee for each district; trustees must live in the area they represent.
At a Nov. 6 public input meeting where HSD invited the community to review seven map scenarios, BenitoLink asked Ochoa what prompted the school district to move toward a by-trustee area election system.
“Partly the history of the two election systems at-large vs. trustee, and also the school district being open to litigation,” Ochoa said. “The Hollister School District received notice from LULAC that it was concerned about voting, and MALDEF made an announcement that they were prepared to submit litigation against the district if the switch didn’t take place.”
The five current school board trustees reside in different areas of the city. Three members—Stephen Kain, Jan Grist and Robert Bernosky—live southeast of Sunnyslope Road. Elizabeth Martinez lives just north of Tres Pinos Road, and Carla Torres-DeLuna lives northeast of Meridian Street.
The Hollister School District is not the first area agency to adopt by-trustee area elections, as San Benito High School underwent the change in 2017 to comply with the California Voting Rights Act and avoid litigation.
The public hearing will take place at the HSD board meeting on Nov. 26 at 6 p.m. at the district office, 2690 Cienega Road. See the meeting agenda for more details.