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St. Helena is gaining a judge and losing a school board president, with Cynthia Smith resigning as a school trustee following her recently announced nomination to the Napa Superior Court bench.

Smith’s resignation was announced Thursday and will take effect Jan. 17, cutting short a four-year term that would have expired in November. Governor Jerry Brown nominated her to a seat on the Napa Superior Court on Dec. 22.

“It has been a true pleasure serving on the board for the last seven years – working with my fellow board members to support student achievement for all of our students,” Smith stated in her letter of resignation. “I have been incredibly fortunate to work with the district’s dedicated professional staff and administrative team. I know our students are in excellent hands as they move through the St. Helena Unified School District.”

Board Vice President Jeff Conwell, who like Smith was elected to the board in 2010, will take over as board president.

“Cynthia Smith has been a passionate advocate for St. Helena schools and for California education,” Conwell said in a statement. “The traits that made her an effective Board President – calm, prepared, diplomatic and caring – will make her an outstanding justice. Our community will miss her contribution, but our region and our state will gain from her service on the Superior Court bench.”

Conwell will lead a discussion of how to fill the vacant seat at the board’s next meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 18, at Vintage Hall. The board can appoint someone to serve the remainder of Smith’s term or call a special election.

When Alex Shantz’s resignation left the board with a vacancy in November 2016, trustees appointed Lisa Pelosi to serve out the nearly two years remaining on his term.

Smith is a partner in the law firm Coombs & Dunlap with a Juris Doctor degree from UC-Davis School of Law and a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University.

(This article has been corrected to reflect the circumstances under which Smith was elected to the school board. She was elected in 2010, but not during the recall.)


St. Helena Reporter

Jesse has been a reporter for the St. Helena Star since 2006.