For the second year in a row, the typically routine task of electing school board members to leadership posts was a little less than routine for Sonoma County’s largest school district.
The Santa Rosa School Board on Wednesday night honored outgoing president Bill Carle with a heartfelt speech by Vice President Donna Jeye, followed by a gavel presentation. When Jeye finished, Carle thanked her for her “wonderful, kind words.”
“I feel like I died,” he said.
The meeting proceeded with board clerk Frank Pugh opening the nomination for board president. Jeye promptly nominated Carle to keep his post.
“It might appear that what I did was very odd,” she said. “We are in very unique times right now. I personally feel that we have momentum here that I don’t want to see broken in any way.”
The nomination was seconded by trustee Jenni Klose. Trustee Laura Gonzalez had a long pause before sounding her “aye.” Carle’s election was unanimous.
Gonzalez then nominated Pugh for vice president. Klose quickly nominated Jeye to keep her post. Pugh then withdrew.
“I would not like to see division on the board. I will remove my name from the nomination,” he said.
When the roll call vote was called, Gonzalez abstained. Jeye was installed on a 6-0-1 vote.
Jeye then nominated Pugh to keep his clerk post. He was elected on a 6-0 vote after Gonzalez left the dais before the vote was taken.
It is the second year in a row in which board members were divided on their leadership with board watchers pointing to what appears to be lingering tension between two factions on the seven member board.