A candidate for a top educational job in Merced County said he supports putting one of his opponents back on the ballot after she was removed last week by the county Election's Office.
Merced County Office of Education superintendent candidate Richard Lopez, who is the superintendent of the Merced River School District, said he supports the reinstatement of Gabby Sanchez, a candidate who was told last week she does not qualify for the June ballot.
"She obviously feels that she is qualified for the position and should be provided every opportunity to remain on the ballot," he said in a statement. "I understand that rules are rules, but it is very unfortunate how this has played out and should have been questioned sooner."
Lopez faces incumbent Superintendent Steve Tietjen on the June 5 ballot.
Sanchez began campaigning in January and was informed last week she wouldn't appear on the ballot, according to her election committee.
A second-grade teacher in Delhi, Sanchez earned a doctorate from California State University, Stanislaus. She says she has an Administrative Services Credential, a requirement for the county job.
The Merced County Registrar of Voters Office informed Sanchez on April 25 that she would not qualify to legally hold the position. Sanchez is eligible for the credential, but has not garnered the full credential, the office said.
She would have to have worked in an administrative position, such as in the principal or superintendent role, to complete the credential, the office argues. Sanchez disagrees and has called to be placed back on the ballot.
Lopez noted that Sanchez "has the highest level of education" in her doctorate degree.
"The Merced County communities are desperately in need of a change in leadership and they deserve to have choices," Lopez said. "Dr. Gabriela Sanchez filed for the position for her own reasons: to improve student achievement, to add paraprofessionals in classrooms, and to create a young women’s STEM Academy, to name a few."
Earlier this week, Tietjen was not as supportive of Sanchez.
"I’m not a legal expert on elections law but I’ve learned that you must have a valid credential at the time of filing to be a candidate," he said in an email. "It doesn’t surprise me that people asked about her qualifications since she has never served as an administrator."