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Special Election: Perez declares victory in SJUSD school board race

Sentinel staff report–
Citrus Heights resident Manuel Perez on Friday declared victory in the race for a vacant seat on the San Juan Unified School District’s governing board.


“With the last update and only a handful of votes to count, I am pleased to announce that we did it!” Perez wrote in a Nov. 10 Facebook post. “I am so honored and humbled to be elected as your San Juan Unified School Board Member.”

The latest vote count released by county officials Thursday afternoon shows Perez with 54.1% of the vote, while candidate Moe Sarama trails 45.9% of the vote. A total of 5,235 votes have been counted so far, with Perez receiving 2,832 votes and Sarama receiving 2,403 votes. The next update is scheduled for Nov. 14 by 4 p.m.

As previously reported, a “what is left to process” link on the county’s website shows an estimated total of less than 70 vote-by-mail ballots and conditional ballots remain to be counted, as of press time on Saturday. However, that total does not include mailed ballots yet have been received by the county elections officials, which are required to be received and counted at least seven days after the election.

Sarama’s campaign did not respond to an email request for comment on Thursday, and the candidate has not publicly stated on his Facebook page or campaign website whether he has conceded the race. Sarama noted in a Facebook comment on Wednesday that late mail-in ballots had not been received by the elections office, but that was prior to Thursday’s vote count update being released by the county.

Perez on Facebook said his focus “will be to ensure that our kids are safe when they are at school and that we are always striving to deliver the best education possible” and said he will “work tirelessly to make our schools a place where all students can thrive.”

Perez had been endorsed by Mayor Tim Schaefer and the Sacramento County Republican Party, while Sarama had the backing of the San Juan Teachers Association and had been endorsed by Citrus Heights Councilwoman Porsche Middleton as well as the Democratic Party of Sacramento County.

A special election was held Nov. 7 to fill the Area 7 vacancy on the school district’s governing board left by the late Steve Miller, who passed away earlier this year while serving in office.

The Area 7 school board seat largely covers Citrus Heights, except for several portions of the city south of Greenback Lane and east of Mariposa Avenue. Boundaries for the area caused some confusion for voters who thought they could vote in the election, but learned at the Vote Center or elsewhere that they were not eligible to cast a vote in the election due to them residing outside Area 7’s boundaries.

Prior elections for the San Juan Unified School District were held at-large, but a recent change expanded the board from five members to seven members and also created by-trustee-area elections.

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