Amid recount fight, transgender Oakland school board member resigns

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday February 22, 2023
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 <br>Nick Resnick has resigned from his seat on the Oakland school board following a protracted recount fight. Photo: Courtesy Nick Resnick

Nick Resnick has resigned from his seat on the Oakland school board following a protracted recount fight. Photo: Courtesy Nick Resnick

Rather than continue to contest whether he should remain serving on the Oakland school board, transgender married dad Nick Resnick has resigned from his seat. It brings to an end one of the oddest electoral fights seen in the Bay Area involving an LGBTQ candidate.

Resnick had been certified the winner of the race for the District 4 seat on the board that oversees the Oakland Unified School District on December 8, 2022. But in a shocking turn of events, Alameda County Registrar of Voters Tim Dupuis disclosed December 28 that his office had not properly counted the ballots in the contest and three others decided by ranked choice.

While the error didn't affect the outcomes of any of the other races, it did result in Resnick incorrectly being declared the winner of his race. Nevertheless, Resnick was sworn into office in January.

Yet the true winner of the school board seat, Mike Hutchinson, had sought the Alameda County Superior Court to declare him the victor. When tabulated correctly, the number of ballots cast for Hutchinson was 12,421, giving him 50.52% of the total vote count to win the race. Resnick had actually placed second with 12,165 votes under the ranked-choice system, for 49.48% of the vote.

Hutchinson has been serving in the District 5 seat on the Oakland school board. But he was redistricted into a new district last year and had sought the District 4 seat in order to remain on the oversight body.

As the Bay Area Reporter previously reported, Alameda County supervisors had voted in January in support of a recount of the votes cast in the Oakland school board race as well as the others impacted by the registrar's mistake. Since then Hutchinson's request for judicial intervention has been snaking its way through the courts.

He announced on his campaign Facebook page Tuesday, February 21, that Resnick had decided to resign and bring to an end the legal dispute over the seat.

"I want to thank Nick for his service to OUSD, for how he ran his campaign and for how he handled the unexpected and uncomfortable course of events over the last 2 months," wrote Hutchinson. "I look forward to us working together in the future as I am sure he will continue to find ways to serve District 4, OUSD, and the community at large."

In an email to his supporters late Wednesday afternoon, Resnick informed them of his decision to accept the fact that he had lost the race. He added that he would "congratulate my opponent" and be resigning from the school board.

"I recognize I can continue to contest this election for months and that for months we can spend precious public funds on a legal process and have uncertainty about who is ultimately going to occupy this seat. At this time, I don't think that is what's best for this community and I don't think that's going to help get our schools where they need to go," wrote Resnick.

His being declared the winner and sworn into office means Resnick will maintain the distinction of being the first transgender person to serve on a board overseeing a K-12 public school district in California. His resignation means that once again there is only one trans man serving in an elected education post in the Golden State.

In Santa Cruz County, transgender Cabrillo Community College Board of Trustees member Adam Spickler last November officially became the first transgender man elected to public office in California after winning his bid for reelection. Five years ago he was appointed to the college board in lieu of an election, since no one else ran for his Area II seat, making him the first transgender man to hold public office in the Golden State.

As for Resnick, he pledged to remain involved in the efforts to improve Oakland's public schools so that families want to enroll their children in them.

"I don't know exactly how I'm going to take this on over the next few years but what I do know is that I am going to commit my time, my energy, and my voice to make progress toward a day where all families will actively choose, in every segment of our community, a local public school that inspires and delights them," he wrote. "I'm talking about schools in every corner of our city that families can't get enough of. Our students desperately deserve for us to figure this out."

What happens now with the vacant seat on the Oakland school board remains to be seen. According to the school district, "unless and until a court certifies a new winner of District 4, the seat is vacant."

In a statement released February 23 the school district noted that the board members have 60 days, which would be April 22, to either appoint someone to the seat or call for a special election to be held. If there is still a vacancy by that date then the county superintendent for schools must call a special election to fill the seat.

Updated 2/24/23 with the school district's statement about filling the vacant board seat.

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