On the eve of a crucial court hearing, Santa Barbara County Clerk-Recorder-Assessor Joe Holland said he “erred on the side of democracy” by accepting Christy Lozano’s paperwork and allowing her to run for county superintendent of schools.
Holland said Lozano also signed under penalty of perjury that she was qualified to run. Lozano told Noozhawk that she does possess the appropriate credentials to run for the office.
“My attorney will submit the proof,” Lozano said.
Superior Court Judge Tom Anderle is set to decide the fate of Lozano’s campaign at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. The deadline to print the ballot is Thursday, March 31.
Lozano’s candidacy was challenged by longtime political strategist Mollie Culver.
Culver previously has run campaigns for former Congresswoman Lois Capps, former Santa Barbara mayor Cathy Murillo, former and current school board members Jacqueline Reid and Wendy Sims-Moten, and a variety of local school bond measures.
She is well-known in local and statewide Democratic circles.
Culver filed the lawsuit a week ago to stop Lozano from appearing on the ballot.
“County superintendent of schools is a position that impacts the quality of education received by our students as they gain the critical skills and knowledge necessary to be successful post-graduation,” Culver said. “I do not believe that Ms. Lozano has the credentials that are required to hold this office, and I look forward to a timely determination of eligibility to clarify and resolve any questions and concerns.
The dispute centers on whether Lozano possesses the correct credentials under the California Education Code.
The code states that “all county superintendents of schools . . . shall possess a valid certification document authorizing administrative services.”
The code also states that the possession of a valid elementary administrative credential and a valid secondary administrative credential are equivalent to the possession of a valid general administrative credential.”
Holland said the Education Code is “very, very” complicated when it comes to identifying the credentials for a person to be qualified to run for superintendent of schools.
Most candidates come in well ahead of the deadline, Holland said, but Lozano showed up at 4 p.m. on the last date of the deadline to file.
“She submitted the documents that she wanted to submit, and she signed under penalty of perjury that she is qualified to be a candidate for this position,” Holland said.
Holland said Lozano also indicated in other areas of her campaign filings that she is a teacher, that in the past has worked in an administrative capacity, “and that she has some type of certificate for being an administrator of schools.”
In that situation, Holland said, “I am going to rule on the side of democracy, and I am going to allow her to be on the ballot.”
Any member of the public is welcome to challenge the decision to allow her on the ballot, he said.
Lozano is a Santa Barbara Unified School District teacher who has been critical of the district and its curriculum surrounding race, bias and cultural proficiency.
Lozano said she is running for the superintendent seat because “our students are No. 1.”
The incumbent, Susan Salcido, announced her formal candidacy to seek a second term on Monday.