With an empty boardroom watching Tuesday night, Katherine Zarate was appointed as school board member to fill the position vacancy left by Rachel Juliana after she resigned in March.
Zarate, a 31-year-old attorney mentored by Juliana, was pitted against Roberto Marques, a Westmoor High School science teacher during the past six years, as the only two candidates to apply for the position.
The Jefferson Union High School District Board voted unanimously to approve Zarate over Marques, both Daly City residents, after interviewing the two candidates at the special meeting.
“I’m excited to bea part of this community and be a part of these students’ education,” Zarate said. She touted a commitment to inspire the students and expand their resources to higher education during her interview.
Juliana was re-elected last November to a four-year term but resigned in March to move to the East coast with her family, leaving the board with its first midterm vacancy since 1998 when long-time member George Robinson resigned. Rolly Recio was then appointed to fill Robinson’s seat.
When Juliana resigned, the board decided against holding a special election because of the high costs of doing so, choosing instead to interview candidates and appoint someone to her seat.
Zarate said Juliana was her mentor in the legal profession and inspired her to become involved outside of her job as a litigator for the San Francisco-based law firm Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass.
Zarate will start her provisional term on the board at Tuesday’s scheduled meeting. There is a 30-day period from her appointment where someone could challenge Zarate’s placement. After 30 days without a challenge, her seat becomes official.
Board member David Mineta cited the energy and commitment to the district Zarate will bring as his reasons for voting for her, adding that her Filipina background would add to the diversity of a board that governs a 5,400-student, multicultural district. “A whole new chapter just started in her life,” he said.
Despite the seat having been recently elected, Zarate will have to run in November 2008 to retain her spot. Mineta and fellow board member Jean Brink are also up for reelection at that time.
Board President Maria Luna missed the appointment vote due to an illness but asked the board to proceed with the vote in her absence. Marques’ teaching experience at Westmoor is the only direct experience in the district that either candidate had.