Del Mar school board seeking candidates for board vacancy

The Del Mar Union School District office.
(Karen Billing)

The Del Mar Union School District is now accepting applications to fill a trustee vacancy following the resignation of Scott Wooden. Applications are due by Thursday, April 6; the board will then interview and appoint the new trustee at special board meeting on Tuesday, April 11.

At the March 15 meeting, the board decided on whether to take the appointment route or call for a special election. If the board opted for a special election, it couldn’t be held until November, meaning the board would be down a member for seven months. Superintendent Holly McClurg said the broad range of cost estimates of the election provided by the San Diego County Registrar of Voters were $375,000 to $700,000 due to 31,043 active registered voters in the district.

Neighboring San Dieguito’s 2021 special election cost $187,428 but only included Area 5—the Del Mar district has at-large elections and does not have trustee areas.

The board’s choice will be a provisional appointment until the next regularly scheduled general election in 2024. At that time, candidates would run for a shortened two-year term through 2026.

The board has used the appointment process three times in the last 10 years due to resignations— Erica Halpern was appointed in 2015 and Gee Wah Mok was appointed in 2019.

“In looking at the people sitting next to me I think that process has worked well in the past,” Trustee Doug Rafner said.

Board president Mok said his personal opinion was that the most democratic thing to do is let the voters decide, however, he was in favor of appointment due to the cost. Trustee Katherine Fitzpatrick agreed: “The funds are not what I want to see our district spending money on.”

During public comment, Danielle Roybal, a candidate in the 2022 election in which the three incumbents were re-elected (with Wooden the leading vote getter), spoke in favor of her appointment for the vacancy. Roybal said she earned enough votes, 4,821, to be the community’s choice for trustee after the incumbents.

Roybal said 80 letters were sent to the board asking for her to be appointed in the last month and two other members of the public spoke on her behalf that night.

“We need a parent like Danielle Roybal on the board,” said Maniza Sheikhani, who was also a candidate in the 2022 election. “We need a board member with integrity…one who is positive and is a bridge between the community and the district.”

Applications for the vacancy are available online at and at the district office located at 11232 El Camino Real, Carmel Valley.