Alan Fernandes is the unanimous choice of the Davis school board to serve as its fifth member, filling a seat vacated in March by the abrupt resignation of trustee Nancy Peterson.
The three finalists for the interim appointment — Fernandes, Barbara Archer and Madhavi Sunder — were interviewed by the school board during a special meeting late Monday afternoon. After Fernandes’ selection, he was promptly sworn in, and he’ll serve through November when a special election will be held to fill the remaining two years of Peterson’s term.
Fernandes already has indicated that he plans to campaign for a full term on the board in November, when four seats will be on the ballot.
During his presentation Monday describing why he was seeking the appointment, Fernandes said he believe he offers “a valuable set of diverse perspectives and experiences.”
He cited his recent experience as a member of the school district’s Strategic Planning Committee, which drafted a five-year plan that was then adopted by the school board, as a plus. Fernandes noted that none of the four currently serving trustees had served on the committee, and suggested that it might be “important to have a board member who was part of that process to maintain consistency” as the school district implements recommendations from the strategic plan over the next few years.
Fernandes said that as a parent of young children — he has two youngsters in elementary school — he “will be in the school district for a long time” as an active participant. He also mentioned the insights he gained as a school board candidate in 2012, when he finished third behind trustee Susan Lovenburg and Peterson for the two seats available.
“Putting myself before voters has given me perspective,” he said.
Fernandes also mentioned his background as an attorney and a manager in the public sector — he works in Sacramento as the chief legislative representative for Los Angeles County, a job that involves quite a bit of networking and negotiating. He said this background will “add value to (the school board’s) governance team. … Frankly, my most important skill is that I’m a proven and known collaborator and consensus-builder, bringing communities together and moving forward to get to a bottom line.”
He noted that “in the next few months, there is much to be done” during school board meetings. “We need to finish the budget, and I intend to invest myself fully in that.” This will be the district’s first budget under the state’s new Local Control Funding Formula.
Fernandes was appointed by a unanimous vote, with trustees Sheila Allen, Gina Daleiden, Tim Taylor and Lovenburg choosing him on the first ballot. This was a sharp contrast to the last time the board filled a seat by appointment, in 2002, when a prolonged 2-2 tie played out over multiple ballots before a three-vote majority finally was reached.
After the ballots were cast, board president Gina Daleiden spoke highly of Archer and Sunder. Looking ahead to an election this fall when four school seats will be filled by voters, Daleiden said, “I fully expect that one day, all three of you will be on the school board. I’m wishing we didn’t have to cast just one vote tonight.”
Taylor observed that if Allen wins a seat on the City Council in June, the board could be appointing another trustee during the summer.
Lovenburg said she voted for Fernandes “because he has been through the process” as a candidate.
“I think a campaign seasons a candidate,” she said. “The other candidates (for the appointed seat) will benefit from that, too.”
Archer and Sunder have both launched their campaigns for the November election.
— Reach Jeff Hudson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8055.