Young Santa Rosa school board candidate withdraws from November race

One of the youngest candidates to ever run for the Santa Rosa school board has renounced her candidacy, citing personal reasons.

Lyndsey Burcina, 18, was running unopposed in Area 2, or northwest Santa Rosa, in hopes of adding a younger perspective and diversifying the seven-member board. However, she withdrew last week.

'I plan on remaining active within our district and participating in future school board meetings. My work in teacher-student advocacy does not stop here,' said Burcina, an Elsie Allen High School alumna currently enrolled at Santa Rosa Junior College.

Area 2 is one of three Santa Rosa school board seats open in the upcoming Nov. 6 election. Santa Rosa City Schools is the first among Sonoma County's 40 school districts where voters will choose school board members by geographic areas, instead of the previous at-large election system.

Burcina drew comparisons to state Sen. Mike McGuire, who was first elected to the Healdsburg school board at age 19.

Had she stayed in the race, she would likely have been the youngest school board in Sonoma County history, said longtime board member Frank Pugh, who is running for reelection in south central Santa Rosa's Area 4 against local community organizer Omar Medina.

Currently, the youngest school board member is Ed Sheffield, 45.

Stephanie Manieri, 22, is running unopposed this November for the Area 6 seat, which represents southwest Santa Rosa.

Burcina attempted to withdraw her candidacy on Thursday, but she missed the Sonoma County Registrar of Voters deadline to remove her name from the ballot.

Burcina's candidacy effectively ended Friday when she submitted to the school board her letter of intent to withdraw. Her situation was unusual because she was a candidate in an uncontested seat but not yet a board member.

'She was stuck in between these two positions,' said Jenni Klose, Santa Rosa school board president.

Burcina initially filed to run in Area 6 on July 17, according to Deena Thompson-Stadler, county elections manager. Shortly after, Manieri filed to run in the same area.

Their platforms were similar; both women are Elsie Allen High School alumnae who advocate for minority communities. On Aug. 10, Burcina withdrew her candidacy from Area 6 and filed to run in Area 2, Thompson-Stadler confirmed.

Burcina said she lives in both areas equally.

'My family commitments require two addresses,' said Burcina, whose parents are divorced.

Her switch from Area 6 to 2 didn't impact her decision to pull out of the race, she said. Both of her applications for candidacy were approved.

'I did get permission from the county registrar,' she said. 'I wanted to work with Stephanie.'

Burcina said she hopes to run again in the future when the time is right.

In the absence of a candidate for Area 2, a bylaw requires the school board declare a vacancy and appoint someone to the seat. The board plans to declare a vacancy at today's meeting.

Klose said a committee of three school board members will be formed to accept applications and conduct interviews. The committee will present finalists for the board to vote on and appoint by Oct. 24, with the appointee seated by Dec. 12.

Burcina hopes whoever is appointed thinks critically about how district decisions impact teacher-student relations, as well as advocates for minorities.

About 53 percent of students in the Santa Rosa district are Hispanic, and there currently are no Latino board members. Candidates Manieri and Medina are both Latino.

The school board decided last year to scrap at-large elections and switch to district races amid allegations that the old system disenfranchised minority communities.

You can reach Staff Writer Susan Minichiello at 707-521-5216 or On Twitter @susanmini.

A previous version of this story incorrectly stated candidate Stephanie Manieri's age. She was 22 at the time of publication.

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