On Jan. 7, James Harris is sworn in as the new representative for OUSD’s District 7 seat.
But just two weeks later, he goes back to court, where a judge might declare him ineligible to serve on the board because of where he lives (in Oakland City Council District 7, but in the San Leandro school district) — and the seat, vacant.
Judge Evelio Grillo initially sided with Harris and against Alice Spearman, whom he beat handily on Election Day. But at a hearing today, Grillo raised more questions — and set another court date for Jan. 23.
Spearman says she’s confident that not only will she prevail in court, but that she’ll get her seat back, either through appointment or a special election.
As promised, Alice Spearman’s attorney has filed a motion to declare James Harris, the candidate who beat her on Election Day, ineligible for the seat.
“I’m going to do what I said I was going to do,” Spearman told me last week.
The motion, filed Tuesday, essentially makes the same case as the pre-election challenge: Harris might be an Oakland resident, living in City Council District 7, but his neighborhood is part of the San Leandro Unified School District.
Harris votes for City Council District 7, but for a San Leandro school board representative. He wasn’t able to vote in his own race.
This tally doesn’t include all of the mail-in ballots that have yet to be counted, but the results for the Oakland school board races and Measure J (which I’ve rounded) are pretty decisive. Two of the three incumbents, London and Hinton Hodge, have won.
District 1: Incumbent Jody London, 76% — defeated Thearse Pecot
District 3: Incumbent Jumoke Hinton Hodge, 61% (after ranked-choice voting ran its course) — defeated Richard Fuentes and Ben Lang
District 5: Rosie Torres, 54% — defeated Mike Hutchinson in an open race for a seat long held by Noel Gallo.
District 7: James Harris, 57% — defeated Alice Spearman, who has said she might raise a legal challenge again, after the election; Harris lives in Oakland, but in a neighborhood affiliated with the San Leandro school district.
Measure J: 84% (needed 55 percent to pass)
What do you think this outcome will mean for OUSD — besides two new board members?
FRIDAY UPDATE #2: Alice Spearman said the judge said he needed more information to determine whether Harris lived in OUSD, and that there would be a full hearing in about a month (She plans to file a motion for one). “It ain’t over,” she said. “The man lives in a part of town that is part of San Leandro Unified.”
FRIDAY UPDATE: James Harris remains a certified candidate for the District 7 seat. An email Harris sent me this afternoon read: “The judge denied Ms. Spearman’s ex parte application to decertify me as a candidate. I look forward to turning our full focus back towards mounting a vigorous campaign.”
Alice Spearman‘s re-election campaign for Oakland school board (District 7) has challenged whether James Harris, her opponent, has met the residency requirements to run in the November election.
Harris lives in Sheffield Village with an Oakland address. He pays Oakland property taxes, and is in Oakland City Council District 7. He has a kid at Burckhalter. But for a reason I don’t understand, he and his neighbors vote for San Leandro school board. There’s a hearing tomorrow morning; I’ll keep you posted.
Anyone have history on this neighborhood?
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