A screenshot of Christy Lozano from her YouTube video on the Culturally Responsive Curriculum. | Credit: Courtesy

BALLOT BOLLOX:  The importance of any elected office is directly proportional to the willingness of those seeking it to lie, cheat, steal, and fight. By this measure, the Superintendent of County Education, perhaps the most important, least understood elected office nobody ever heard of, has finally hit the big time. 

Either that or Santa Barbara is now under siege by a small but ardent right-wing conspiracy, the likes of which we haven’t seen since local members of the John Birch Society lynched in effigy the then-Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren and the then-News-Press founder and owner T.M. Storke back in the 1960s. 

And no, I am not making this up. 

Those were simpler times. Back then, those citizens who were aggrieved by the creeping hand of one-world statism railed against such things as fluoride in the municipal water supply — still perhaps the single greatest public health innovation since sliced bread, though gluten-free, of course. Today, they’ve been denouncing vaccine and masking requirements as totalitarian oppression.

Back then, aggrieved citizens tried to take over school boards, warning that One World Conspiracy propagandists were brainwashing our children to believe the United Nations was more important than the United States. Today, the fault line of this ideological divide is over equity and implicit-bias training.

Sixty years later and only the names have changed.

Lying somewhere on this spectrum, we have Christy Lozano — an 18-year physical education instructor with Santa Barbara’s anything but unified school district — and the court battle to stop her from running for County Superintendent of Schools.

On a recent social media video, Lozano — also a Christian minister, union rep, and soccer coach — comes across as a modern-day Joan of Arc: righteous, soulful, attractive, and above all, long-suffering. At school board meetings where she speaks frequently, however, she comes off more as a gale-force wind, aggrieved that parental authority is being usurped by social activist administrators who, she contends, are force-feeding students an agenda that leads to white self-loathing.

At 4 p.m. on March 11, Lozano submitted papers to county elections officials to run for County Superintendent of Schools against the incumbent, Dr. Susan Salcido. That was just one hour before the filing deadline elapsed. County elections czar Joe Holland didn’t have enough time to verify that Lozano possessed all the administrative certificates needed to qualify to run for this post. With the clock ticking, Holland greenlighted her candidacy, explaining he didn’t have the info to say no. There hasn’t been a contested race for county schools superintendent in Santa Barbara for 35 years. 

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It’s worth noting that Holland is now also being challenged by another spokesperson for the culturally aggrieved right, Elrawd MacLearn, who ran unsuccessfully as part of a conservative slate for the Santa Barbara school board two years ago. 

To belabor an obvious point, the inflamed right is targeting elections officers — voting rights equals election theft — and school boards throughout the nation, and, now they are doing it here.

Coming seemingly out of left field to oppose Lozano’s candidacy — unsuccessfully —  on the hyper-technical grounds that she lacks the administrative certificates required to serve  was Mollie Culver, the ubiquitous campaign consultant for the so-called Democratic Machine, who has worked with the likes of Lois Capps, Gregg Hart, Cathy Murillo, and the cannabis industry, not to mention so many school bond measures that to name them all would induce a seizure.

Representing Culver is a Sacramento law firm that frequently represents the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association, on the board of which incumbent Salcido sits. 

Culver is also exceptionally tight with former State Assemblymember, former State Senator, and former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, who still works closely with the aforementioned statewide cabal of county superintendents. The play here looks to be that Jack called Mollie, who sued Joe to keep Christy off the ballot. Got it?

On the flip side, Lozano is represented by John Thyne III, perhaps the single most ubiquitous person in Santa Barbara. John, as he is also known, is tight with James Fenkner — who is known simply as “Fenkner,” not James, even though it’s harder to pronounce — who is at the epicenter of the backlash against the sometimes excessively woke but necessary politics of inclusion roiling the school district. Fenkner, who started Fair Education to oppose a voluntary implicit-bias training program, is a likable guy and talented schemer who seems to need a good fight to keep boredom at bay. 

I read the legal briefs of both sides. It was “How many angels can dance on a head of a pin?” versus “How many ways can you cut a baby in half?” Both sides agreed Lozano is not presently qualified to serve because she has never held the requisite administrative posts. But if she won the election, Thyne argued with ingenious circularity, Lozano would then have the administrative position needed to allow her to be qualified to run. In the end, Judge Colleen Sterne explained she didn’t want to block the people from choosing. Lozano will be on the ballot.

The moral of the story, of course, is that we always go crazy when we talk about race. And in America, everything is about race. Why else would you lynch Earl Warren in effigy?

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