The Mercury News Weekend
Oakland school board candidate resigns
OAKLAND >> An Oakland school board candidate initially certified as the winner of last November's election resigned from the board Tuesday, signaling an end to a controversial election the Alameda County Superior Court had agreed to review.
In a statement, Nick Resnick acknowledged a judge-ordered review of the election outcome in the three-candidate race for the school board's District 4 seat. It had hinged on county officials' mistaken suspension of 235 ballots in a ranked choice election in which voters had left the first column blank or wrote in an ineligible candidate.
County election officials were alerted to the error in late December, and after reprocessing the results, they concluded that Resnick's opponent, Mike Hutchinson, actually won the seat.
The revelation set off competing lawsuits by the two candidates, with a trial set to begin next month. By resigning, Resnick has cleared the path for Judge Brad Seligman to order that Hutchinson fill the seat.
“I recognize I can continue to contest this election for months and that for months we can spend precious public funds on a legal process and have uncertainty about who is ultimately going to occupy this seat,” Resnick said.
“At this time, I don't think that is what's best for this community and I don't think that's going to help get our schools where they need to go,” he said. “Instead, I am making the choice to congratulate my opponent and share that I will no longer be opposing the election contest, and therefore resigning from the D4 seat.”
The election also led to widespread criticism of the Alameda County registrar — the office that had mistakenly configured the county's ranked choice voting software to sideline the ballots that should have gone to Hutchinson.
County officials found themselves having to explain how the wrong candidate was certified as the winner. Tim Dupuis, the county registrar, has not responded to interview requests since the lawsuits were filed.
Hutchinson, in an interview, said Resnick had resigned gracefully, allowing the board to move forward and find a full-time appointment for the District 4 seat.
“For me, if the roles were reversed, I'd like to think I'd have handled this the same way that Nick Resnick did — wait and see if the information is correct, and then do the right thing by the community,” said Hutchinson, the current school board president. “And I think that's what Nick has done.”
Hutchinson currently represents District 5 on the school board, but ran for the open seat in District 4 after his home address was redistricted there last year. If the judge orders that he fill the contested seat, the board will have 60 days to appoint his replacement in District 5.
Had the county followed the Oakland City Charter, the majority of Nov. 8 ballots would immediately have been transferred to Hutchinson, the thirdplace finisher and eventual winner through the city's ranked choice format, which allows voters to rank preferences.
In the weeks after Resnick's certification, both men had been serving on the board, with Resnick making some decisions — but abstaining from a recent vote to rescind a number of widely controversial campus closures.