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Elba Gonzalez-Mares

The Napa Valley Unified School District Board of Education will have an open seat until the November election when voters will decide the trustee for the vacancy as well as three other seats.

Elba Gonzalez-Mares resigned in May after she moved out of Area 2, which covers portions of west Napa including Alta Heights, Napa High School, New Technology High School, and other schools.

She said in her resignation letter dated May 11 that the “purchase of my first home” resulted in her moving out of Area 2, making her ineligible to remain in her seat.

The purchase “brings me much happiness,” Gonzalez-Mares wrote, but was also “bittersweet news” because it meant having to step down from the school board.

Her departure could be short-lived, however.

Gonzalez-Mares, who now lives in west Napa’s Area 6 represented by Trustee Robb Felder, said Thursday evening that she intends to run in November for Felder’s seat.

Felder, who has served three terms on the school board, said he will not run again for reelection.

Gonzalez-Mares’ departure marked the second time this year that a NVUSD trustee had to resign.

In January, Stacey Bratlien stepped down after moving out of Area 1 covering north Napa and Yountville. The school board in March appointed Robin Jankiewicz to replace Bratlien.

Gonzalez-Mares, elected in 2016, had more than two more years left in her term.

Unlike Bratlien’s departure, Gonzalez-Mares’ will not result in an appointed replacement due to the timing of her resignation.

NVUSD spokesperson Elizabeth Emmett said Thursday the California Education Code dictates that the school board cannot choose someone to replace a trustee when the opening occurs less than six months before the general election.

Instead, her seat will be filled by a special election held in conjunction with the Nov. 6 election, said Emmett.

The filing period for candidates will begin July 16 and close Aug. 10, according to Registrar of Voters John Tuteur.

In addition to electing a new Area 2 trustee, voters in November will decide the trustees for Areas 1 and 3, currently held by Jankiewicz and Thomas Kensok, respectively.

Jankiewicz said Thursday that she intends to run for her seat in November.

Kensok said he is not ready to announce his plans.

The seats for the school board’s other trustees — Joe Schunk, Icela Martin, and Jose Hurtado — will not be up for election until 2020.

NVUSD’s school board has not been the only one to lose trustees recently.

The Napa County Board of Education announced in May that trustee Lisa Lindsey had resigned effective May 1 because she, too, had moved out of the area she represented covering American Canyon and portions of Napa.

The county board intends to interview candidates on June 26 and choose a replacement to fill out Lindsey’s term, which does not expire until 2020.

Three American Canyon residents have applied for the position, according to Napa County Office of Education spokesperson Seana Wagner.

They are: Retired probation officer Sindy (Betsinda) Biederman, Canyon Oaks Elementary School parent Lisa Chu and realtor Richard Peterson.

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American Canyon Eagle editor

Noel Brinkerhoff has been editor of the American Canyon Eagle since 2014. Prior to that he covered state politics in Sacramento for the California Journal.