Outspoken critic of the Sweetwater Union High School District, Kevin O’Neill, urged district officials to take immediate action to fill a vacated seat at a Thursday press conference in front of the district headquarters.
“I, as a resident, of this district have great concern about the district’s seemingly inability to move the appointment process forward on the vacancy with Ms. Ricasa’s force(d) removal,” said O’Neill, who is a member of the district’s bond oversight committee.
O’Neill accuses district officials of purposely letting the “clock run out” on a provisional appointment, so that the district can go to a special election.
O'Neill has expressed interest in either being appointed or elected to the position.
“I believe that they can better control the outcome of an election then they can of an appointment process,” he said.
At a special board meeting in January, Trustee John McCann said he wanted to move forward with a special election by mail.
O’Neill said he questions McCann’s intentions as to why he wants a mail ballot.
“A mail ballot particularly in a special election is going to favor white male Republicans and you’re not likely to get a good response from the general district,” O’Neill said. “On the other hand, voters in this district have never done a mail ballot.
O’Neill notes in the press conference that McCann used the stance of being a fiscal conservative when running for the district, and O’Neill said he can’t understand why McCann wants a special election if the district can’t afford the $1.4 million for the election.
He also said Superintendent Ed Brand is on a two-weeks vacation during a time when a decision on the process of filling the seat needs to be made.
“The timing of it all leads me to believe that the power block doesn’t want an appointment and that they don’t mind spending the money to get what they think will be a better outcome for their interest.
In the end, O’Neill said he just wants the district to publicly make a decision of what their plans on filling Ricasa’s seat entail.
O’Neill said he has sent e-mails and called board members to ask for an update of the process. None of his correspondence has received a reply.
McCann did not return calls from The Star-News seeking comment. A district spokesman was also available for comment.