Jesus Velazquez recall, Alisal Union School District (August 2009)
The recall was approved, removing Velazquez from office.
|Should Jesus Velazquez be recalled?|
- These final, certified, election results are from the Monterey County elections office.
Velazquez was the trustee for Area 1 in the school district. He had served on the board for 13 years, and at the time the recall campaign was launched, served as the president of the district's five-member Board of Trustees. If he had not been recalled, his term on the board would have ended in November 2010.
The recall election was conducted exclusively as a mail-in ballot question. 1,580 ballots were mailed out to possible voters.
Meredith Ibarra, who ran on the ballot as a replacement candidate, was elected. The board elected her as board president during her first meeting as an elected official.
The same group of parents who successfully collected the signatures to force the Velasquez recall election also supported two candidates against incumbent trustees Gary Karnes and Juan Flores in the November school board elections.
According to Superintendent Esperanza Zendejas, "Since the recall, we have had a very difficult time in conducting the business of the district when it comes to the board. We need to pay people we owe money to, we have people we would like to hire but have not been able to. There are after-school programs that need staffing and lots of agenda items that need to be completed. If we don't get the business of the district done, we'll have a crisis. We can't have one side or two — there has to be a balanced view of what the problems are."
The recall battle became very heated. Parents and teachers protested and rallied at meetings of the Board of Trustees. Police were called to school board meetings to remove parents. Police reports were filed by parents involved in the recall because of threats made against them.
Motivation for recall effort
Those who sought the recall of Velazquez indicated on the recall petition they circulated that they had these reasons for wanting to recall him:
- "You blatantly chose to not protect the best interests of students, parents, teachers and of voters who elected you."
- "You have engaged in abuse of power for your own personal gain as demonstrated by your continuous persistence to seek lifetime benefits from the taxpayers and the Alisal Union School District to cover yourself and your family's medical, dental, vision and life insurance. And monetarily profiting from the district through your T-shirt business (Velasquez Printing) by billing third parties for merchandise sold to the district."
A group of teachers who were not directly involved in the recall effort asked these questions:
- Why they got pay cuts when some school administrators received pay raises.
- Teachers whose health benefit costs were set to increase by 15% said that Superintendent Esperanza Zendejas, who was given a 10% raise and an extended contract buyout clause, ignored their concerns.
In response to the accusations against him, Velazquez said:
- His company (Velasquez Printing) has never done any business with the school district.
- He does not gain financially from the fact that the school district hired his nephew to be a vice-principal at Alisal High School.
Path to the ballot
The recall election qualified for the ballot after the group that sought the recall submitted 451 recall signatures to election officials in late April. They needed 389 signatures to qualify the recall question for the ballot.
- Information from Monterey County on how candidates can file for the August 25 recall election ballot (dead link)
- List of the Alisal Union School District trustees
- Alisal Union School District Website
- The Californian, "Group seeks recall of three Alisal Union School District trustees," May 4, 2009
- The Californian, "Longtime Alisal Union School District trustee recalled," August26, 2009
- The Californian, "Alisal Union School District recall voting begins," July 28, 2009
- The Californian, "Registrar of voters orders recall election in Salinas' Alisal school district," May 21, 2009
- Monterey Herald, "Alisal school board trustees walk out of meeting," October 13, 2009
- KSBW, "Groups Protest At Alisal School Meeting," May 6, 2009 (dead link)
- The Californian, "Alisal school district parents file a recall petition against trustee," April 28, 2009