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Trevithick had moved

Sedric Trevithick

The Jamestown Public School Board is researching electoral, legal and procedural questions regarding an ineligible school board member prior to its July 16 meeting.

Interim school board member Sedric Trevithick ran unopposed for his rural seat and received 2,065 votes in Tuesday's primary election. It was while voting Tuesday that Trevithick said he learned his home address is actually in Barnes County North School District.

"Mr. Trevithick gave notice that his election did not appear on his own ballot," said Nicole Meland, Stutsman County auditor, adding that the school district was informed about his ineligibility to serve on the school board based on his home address.

The school board appointed Trevithick an interim board member on Oct. 3, 2016, said Robert Lech, superintendent of Jamestown Public School District. At the time, Trevithick lived near Eldridge and was eligible for the rural Jamestown seat, he said.

"Then Sedric moved and was not aware he no longer resided in the school district," Lech said. "It was very close, about a half mile from the district line. We did not know that he moved and it was one of those things that fell through the cracks."

Trevithick said he currently resides about 9 miles east of Jamestown on Country Club Road. The proximity to town is why it never occurred to him that he might not live within the school district, he said.

"Now I see the map clearly shows me as a resident of Barnes County North," Trevithick said. "Nobody foresaw this and unfortunately that is where we are at—in this tiny gap. It was unforeseen and not done intentionally."

Sally Ost, school district business manager, said that given the unusual circumstance of an ineligible candidate on the ballot, the school district's attorney will consult with the school board on procedure and multiple single votes for write-in candidates.

"We should have a formal answer on guidelines by the Monday meeting," Ost said. "We need to know about the what ifs and the legal process for correctly filling those two rural positions."

The unofficial results of 75 write-in ballots for the open rural seat include Greg Allen with 31 votes. Allen, a current member of the school board, had announced he would retire in July and was not seeking re-election.

Heidi Williams received 6 write-in votes, and Mark Sherfy received 5 votes. Melissa Gleason, Kelly Seckerson and Sara Wilson received 2 votes each. There were 27 individuals with 1 vote.

Gleason, who lives near Homer township, was also considered for the open rural seat in 2016. The school board voted 4-3 in favor of Trevithick.

Meland said the nine remaining write-in votes are non-persons, or where no name was entered and the oval for a write-in candidate was filled.

Once the school board accepts the official election results at its July 16 meeting the process of selecting a write-in candidate starts with the open rural seat vacated by Greg Allen, according to Meland. The seat goes to the individual with the most write-in votes who is eligible and accepts the board membership, she said.

The process continues down the list according to the number of votes received, she said.

Once the open seat is filled then the process would continue with Trevithick's resignation and filling the seat with the remaining write-in candidates, she said. If the process does not fill one or both seats then the school board would appoint people according to its own policies, she said.

If it comes to the point of the school board needing to appoint rural members there would be time allowed for public notice so people can contact the school district, said Roger Haut, president of Jamestown Public School Board.

"We shouldn't speculate as we move forward," Haut said. "We will see what comes out of it."