Convicted school board member plans to run again

CHULA VISTA, Calif. - 10News has confirmed a school leader convicted in a bribery scandal that rocked the South Bay wants to get his job back. Jim Cartmill is planning to run for re-election.

Three years ago, investigators raided the homes of Sweetwater Union High School District board members. Four out of the five eventually pleaded guilty and had to be kicked off the board, including the former president, Cartmill. This week, he pulled the papers needed to run for the board in November. 

"I think it's a disservice to the community," said Sweetwater board candidate Chris Shilling. "By him running, it creates another distraction."

He would run against Cartmill in district three if Cartmill does run.

Cartmill is able to run because it was part of his plea deal and sentencing in June.

Political consultant Laura Fink says it is not uncommon for people convicted of crimes to run for political office. 

"We know we've seen it with Ted Stevens. Seven felony convictions for corruption and almost squeaked out a victory in his home state of Alaska in his Senate race," said Fink. "Right now, we have a Providence mayor who's been convicted of witness tampering, corruption, assault, among other things. He was running for mayor."

In Cartmill's case, the judge stated she took into consideration more than 100 letters of support, Cartmill's 24-year service to the board and that in her words, he is the "least culpable" of the offenders. She adds, let voters decide if they want him.

For the first time, Sweetwater will have district elections.

"You can be assured that it's probably Cartmill's base that is the district that he'll be running in," said Fink.

It is a potential advantage for him, but also an advantage for his opponent if he can convince voters that Cartmill will mean more trouble for the district.

"The community, the parents, the schools ... they deserve better," said Shilling.

Cartmill is not the only convicted board member who has expressed interest in running.

Former board trustee Bertha Lopez says she plans to run as well. So far, she has not pulled papers yet.

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