ENCINITAS — A majority of the San Dieguito Union High School District board will be made up of new faces in December after newcomers prevailed in three competitive races, including a parent’s defeat of incumbent Trustee Julie Bronstein in Area 5.
In the Area 5 race, parent Phan Anderson established what appears to be an insurmountable lead as of Friday morning with a total of 5,860 votes, or 51.44%, over Bronstein, who garnered 5,025 votes (44,11%), and fellow challenger Georgia Ringler (506 votes).
“I’m delighted that our campaign has been successful, and I’m very grateful to the many individuals in our community who helped make this happen,” Anderson said in a statement. “Ours was a grass-roots campaign with broad support, challenging an incumbent who had the powerful backing of her party and material support from organized groups aligned with the unions.”
Bronstein initially opted not to comment until more votes had been counted, but submitted a written statement on Nov. 16 conceding the race.
“As the counting of votes by county election officials has continued, it has become clear to me that there is no longer a path for me to win this election,” Bronstein wrote. “It has been an honor serving our district over the past year. I am forever grateful to the many generous, kind and thoughtful people who care passionately about providing a high-quality public education for all of our students.”
Trustee Maureen “Mo” Muir, who decided not to seek re-election in Area 1, congratulated Anderson on her election victory.
“I’m delighted with Phan’s victory, and I think she’ll be a great addition to the board,” Muir wrote in a release. “My impression has been that she’s a hard worker, and I expect her to be a strong advocate for the best interests of the kids and parents. Her collaborative spirit is just what the Board needs, and I think she’ll be a constructive influence.”
In the Area 3 race, former special education teacher Jane Lea Smith has extended her lead to 3,239 votes ahead of competitor Sheila King, who faced controversy just days before the election after allegedly hosting a party where two boys were later stabbed.
Smith thanked King and her supporters for advocating for district issues that were important to them.
“I appreciated hearing from her supporters and from mine about the issues that were important to them, and I’m tremendously grateful to the community volunteers who helped to spread the word about my candidacy,” Smith said. “I am optimistic about our district’s future and look forward to working alongside my fellow board members to address our challenges and celebrate our students’ successes.”
Former Encinitas Union School District trustee Rimga Viskanta maintains a wide lead in the Area 1 race against parent David Carattini, surpassing him by 2,281 votes.
Despite board positions being nonpartisan, party politics played a large part in this year’s election for the embattled district, which has faced a series of controversies, many related to dysfunction on the board itself, over the past year.
The board held a conservative majority for the past year until the resignation of Trustee Melisse Mossy in April, which left the board split 2-2 on many decisions. The Republican-endorsed Anderson joins current Trustee Michael Allman in the board’s conservative minority.
Newly-elected trustees of the San Dieguito Union High School District will serve a four-year term starting on Dec. 13.