RAINEY: ELECTIONS SHOULDN’T BE CANCELED, EVEN WITHOUT COMPETITIONBy Dave Wielenga
Former school board candidate Naomi Rainey asserted today in a statement released by the NAACP that the Long Beach Unified School District ought to conduct regularly scheduled elections for seats on the Board of Education even when all candidates are unopposed.
“The Long Beach Unified School District should be having elections whether there is one person running or ten people running,” said Rainey, 62, who for three days this month was a candidate for the Board of Educaton and is the longtime president of the NAACP’s Long Beach chapter. ”It is the fundamental essence of democracy.”
Rainey’s announced withdrawal from the Board of Education race at about midday on Jan. 13 left every incumbent unopposed. However, because she did not complete the necessary paperwork before the 5 p.m. deadline that day, her withdrawal was not official. This left the LBUSD with the legal obligation to hold an election, which district officials have estimated will cost $200,000.
Rainey has been heavily criticized for the situation, which has been widely presented as without appeal or option. But while signaling in her statement that there may yet be a way to extract her name as a candidate and cancel the election, Rainey insisted that shouldn’t be anyone’s objective.
“I have been approached with options to remove my name from the ballot,” Rainey revealed. ”Whether or not my name is removed, the school board should do more than provide citizens a forum. Citizens should be given a vote. We deserve a democratic election. Elections are not a mistake. They are the foundation of American democracy, and the right thing to do.”
Rainey said her statement was issued in response “to articles printed in the media regarding the school board election.” But she did not address why the statement was released via an e-mail account that listed the sender as the NAACP.
Although Rainey has been president of the NAACP’s Long Beach chapter for at least 10 years, the use of the civil rights organization’s e-mail account in this situation raises questions:
Is the statement the official position of the NAACP or its Long Beach chapter?
Was Rainey running for a seat on the Board of Education as the exclusive proxy of the NAACP? Or would she have been free to respond to the any constituent?
Here is the message in its entirety:
Naomi Rainey’s Official Response to Articles Printed in the Media Regarding School Board Election
January 23, 2012
Headline: Elections are Not a Mistake
I believe in democracy. The cornerstone of democracy is the ability for citizens to vote their approval or disapproval of our government officials. From the President of the United States, to the school boards in our local communities, elections are the cornerstone of our democracy. Elections provide the foundation for citizens to not only voice their concerns to incumbents, but to back people’s voice in a way that cannot be ignored. The Long Beach Unified School District should be having elections whether there is one person running or ten people running. It is the fundamental essence of democracy. Our community has expressed to me their belief in having an electoral voice. Whether my name is on the ballot or not, citizens ought to have the right to vote their approval or disapproval of the people that will shape our education system in Long Beach for years to come. I have been approached with options to remove my name from the ballot. Whether or not my name is removed, the school board should do more than provide citizens a forum. Citizens should be given a vote. We deserve a democratic election. Elections are not a mistake. They are the foundation of American democracy, and the right thing to do.