In order to meet a Nov. 4 deadline, the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board will hold a special meeting Monday at 5 p.m. to call a March 5 special election to replace Tarvald Smith, who was elected Saturday to Baton Rouge City Court.
Smith says he plans to resign effective Monday from the board he’s served on for 11 years. That would clear the way for the calling of the special election. Originally, Smith had planned to wait until the board’s next regularly scheduled meeting on Nov. 5, the day after the deadline.
“I do want the election to be in March,” Smith said. “Let the people decide who my replacement will be.”
Failing to act by Nov. 4 could mean that whoever is appointed to temporarily fill Smith’s seat would serve for nearly a year before voters could decide for themselves.
School officials were not at first aware of the Nov. 4 deadline set by the Louisiana secretary of state to hold a special election on March 5.
“I knew there would be a deadline, but I didn’t know it would be this tight,” board President David Tatman said.
An April 9 election date is available, and the deadline to get on that ballot is Feb. 23, said Meg Casper, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state.
School officials, though, are concerned that if more than two candidates qualified to run on April 9, possibly necessitating a runoff, that runoff would not occur until Nov. 8, 2016, at the earliest, the same date as the U.S. presidential election. A March 5 election means that the runoff, if necessary, would occur April 9.
The School Board also plans Monday to declare a vacancy for District 4. That declaration opens the door for interested residents of District 4 to submit their names as possible replacements for Smith. At its Nov. 19 meeting, the board would then appoint a new board member from the names submitted.
District 4 covers the eastern portion of north Baton Rouge. It’s bounded on the south by Florida Boulevard and on the north by Greenwell Street, Joor Road and the Comite River. Lobdell Avenue and Elm Drive form much of its western edge while Flannery Road bounds it on the east.