Following a procedural error last week, the Delta Greely School Board met Monday night and appointed Eileen Herman to the vacant seat on the board created when the seat she previously held was declared vacant. According to Alaska Statute, a seat becomes vacant when the existing member’s term expires and a newly elected member would have taken office.
Herman previously held School Board Seat E and chose not to run for reelection. With no declared candidate, the seat was not placed on the ballot and it became vacant on the date that the newly elected person would have taken office.
Two residents applied for the vacant seat, Pam Goode, and Eileen Herman.
Both candidates gave an introduction and were interviewed from a prepared list of questions Thursday night. The questions were provided to the Board by Board President Eileen Williams. Members rotated and read the questions to the candidates.
Goode addressed many of the topics during her opening statement and expanded as necessary when the questions were asked. Herman gave a shorter opening statement as well as shorter answers to most of the questions. Goode was not asked all of the questions due to the time limit established in the process.
Following the interviews, the current Board Members voted by secret ballot – secret ballots are prevented under the State’s Open Meetings Act. When questioned about the secret ballots by the Delta Wind, Williams called a special meeting for Monday night to have the members openly vote for the candidate of their choice in order to correct the procedural error. Members unanimously elected Herman to the position.
Goode had attempted to run as a write-in candidate for the position by filing with the Division of Elections, calling the State’s failure to put the seat on the ballot for write-in, “Violations of Election Integrity in the Delta/Greely School Board Election.”
Goode explained in a statement that was provided to the Board that the Division of Elections had erred when no space was provided on the October ballot for a write in candidate for Seat E, the seat that was filled Monday night.
The October ballot included a candidate for Seat G that filled prior to the filing deadline for the school board election and was thus considered a declared candidate along with space for a write in candidate’s name. Goode believes there should have been space for write-ins for Seat E.
When no one filed as a declared candidate, Goode said she choose to be certified as a write-in candidate for Seat E and received confirmation from the Division of Elections that she was certified as a write-in candidate for the seat.
Goode said in her letter, “I do not believe the Fairbanks Elections office made a mistake. They followed written statutes and code. I feel the mistake was made with the printing of the ballots and now with those defending a broken system.”
According to Goode, the Division of Elections says the system that prints the ballots simply does not print a place for write-ins when there is no declared candidate.
Alaska Administrative Code 6 AAC 27.036 says, “A candidate who has not filed a declaration of candidacy under 6 AAC 27.035 and wishes to be a candidate in a regional educational attendance area (REAA) election may file as a write-in candidate.” Goode implied this means voters should have been given the opportunity to write-in her name for Seat E, resolving the election prior to the seat being declared vacant and eliminating the need for the School Board to appoint a candidate.