Political Notes: Out Sonoma County superintendent candidate Carter now unopposed

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Monday August 22, 2022
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Amie Carter, Ph.D., is now unopposed after the other candidate in the race suspended his campaign due to health issues. Photo: Courtesy Amie Carter, Ph.D.
Amie Carter, Ph.D., is now unopposed after the other candidate in the race suspended his campaign due to health issues. Photo: Courtesy Amie Carter, Ph.D.

A gay married mother seeking to become the first woman to serve as the Sonoma County superintendent of schools now finds herself running unopposed on the November 8 ballot for the educational post. Practically assured of being elected, she is set to double the number of LGBTQ county superintendents in California.

Steven D. Herrington, after first being elected superintendent in 2010, decided not to seek reelection this year. Amie Carter, Ph.D., 51, entered the race to succeed him as the first out LGBTQ candidate to run for the elected position.

She took the top spot in her June primary contest but fell below the 50% threshold needed to win the seat outright. She had been set to compete head-to-head in the fall race against Brad E. Coscarelli, 52, a school principal in Santa Rosa.

The straight married father came in second in the primary. But August 16 he announced he was suspending his campaign and revealed he had suffered a heart attack in May while at work at Santa Rosa's Hidden Valley Elementary School.

In a note he released about his decision, Coscarelli revealed he has "other health issues" as well, but didn't elaborate, as radio station KSRO noted.

Although Coscarelli's name will remain on the ballot, his decision sets Carter up to be the first woman elected to the position in Sonoma in almost 100 years. Carter currently works as the assistant superintendent of education services in the Marin County education office.

In an August 17 email to her supporters, Carter wished Coscarelli a speedy recovery. She also noted how cordial of a campaign he ran against her.

"During our time together on the campaign trail, Brad was always collegial, kind, and respectful and I am glad he will continue to be an advocate for students and learning," wrote Carter. "I consider Brad a friend, and I hope for a full and fast recovery. I am sending my best wishes to him and his family as they navigate his journey to healing."

Carter also added that because her race will still be voted on in November, she plans to continue to campaign for it. She noted she also needs to raise funds to help cover the more than $8,000 cost for her ballot statement that will be included in the election guide sent to Sonoma County voters.

"The office of superintendent of schools has not been a contested race since 2002. It only seems appropriate that I continue to engage with voters, hear from them and share my priorities with them. This includes continuing my public schedule," wrote Carter, who has an event planned on August 24 at Sunce Winery in Santa Rosa.

Carter is now on a path toward becoming the second out woman to lead a county education office. San Mateo County superintendent of schools, Nancy Magee, a lesbian, was elected four years ago.

She ran unopposed in the June primary, assuring her of a second four-year term. Magee earlier this year had told the Bay Area Reporter she is currently the only known LGBTQ county schools superintendent in the state.

The two women are among a handful of Bay Area out education leaders who ended up not facing opponents this year. As the B.A.R.'s Political Notebook reported in the paper's August 18 issue, both gay San Leandro Unified School District board President James Aguilar and appointed Chabot-Las Positas Community College District Board of Trustees member Harris Mojadedi were the only people to file to run for their seats by the August 12 deadline to do so.

Neither will now appear on the November ballot and will automatically be sworn into four-year terms. In the case of Mojadedi, who was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Alameda County college district last February, he continues to be the first gay Afghan American to hold an elected public office in the U.S.

Meanwhile, Cabrillo Community College Board of Trustees member Adam Spickler is facing a contested election this year after being the only person to enter the 2018 race for his Trustee Area 2 seat. As such, Spickler was automatically appointed to the community college's oversight body, becoming the first transgender man to hold elected office in California.

This year, Spickler is facing a challenge from Bob Kittle, the head coach the past 11 years of the college's baseball team. According to his bio posted online by the athletic department, Kittle lives in Ben Lomond with his wife of 18 years Tami, and his daughters Jordan and Taylor.

Spickler, in announcing his candidacy for a second four-year term in July, had noted his various accomplishments he has achieved, particularly for LGBTQ students, during his first term. He expressed hope that voters will be just as "excited to keep" him on the college board as he is in serving on it.

"Since first getting elected in 2018, I helped establish the college's first-ever LGBTQ+ drop-in center, I initiated our now annual rainbow flag raising events at our Aptos and Watsonville campuses, and helped elevate Cabrillo College's presence in and support of the LGBTQ adult learner community," wrote Spickler, who lives with his husband, Scott Johnson, and their two dogs, Penny and Juno. "I've also supported numerous other efforts by the college to add or increase diversity, equity and inclusion on campus, improve housing security for our staff and students and fight student poverty and hunger."

As for Carter, she has lived in Petaluma for nearly a decade with her wife, Michelle Charpentier, who works in the pharmaceutical industry. They have five daughters ranging in age from 20 to 30 years old.

She was raised in Orem, Utah, the only girl of six siblings in a Mormon family. She first moved to California in 2000 after accepting a teaching job in the Central Valley with the Ripon Unified School District.

Eleven years later she became a school principal there then, in 2013, moved to the North Bay after being hired as a school principal in the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District. Last January, Carter joined the Marin county education office amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has upended school life for now three academic years.

"While I am essentially unopposed, I believe it is important that voters get to know me. I hope you will continue to support me through this campaign to November 8," wrote Carter in her recent email to supporters.

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Got a tip on LGBTQ politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail [email protected]

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