Residents likely have seen campaign signs around Merced County for Gabby Sanchez for superintendent of Merced County Office of Education, but she won't be on the June ballot, according to the Merced County Registrar of Voters.
Sanchez did not meet the qualifications set by state law, which require superintendent candidates to have an Administration Services Credential, according to Barbara Levey, the registrar of voters.
Sanchez learned her name won't appear on the ballot on Wednesday, just 10 days before absentee ballots are mailed out to Merced County voters.
Sanchez has since suspended her campaign, according to her husband, Jerry Sanchez, who also acts as her campaign treasurer.
Sanchez is eligible for the credential but does not officially have it, Levey said. Sanchez disagrees with Levey's finding.
The dispute comes down to the interpretation of election code.
"Election code requires that the candidate hold the proper certifications at the time of filing," Levey said. "It doesn't matter that they can get it later or anything like that."
Sanchez, a second-grade teacher, said she was initially approved to be involved in the election in early January, but then was informed Wednesday that her name had been pulled.
"No waiver is required to become an administrator," she said in a statement. "I have fulfilled all of the academic requirements to be an administrator."
Sanchez earned her doctorate at California State University, Stanislaus.
Jerry Sanchez said the campaign has been suspended at least temporarily. "We're reviewing what she can do legally to deal with this," he said.
Sanchez spent $6,089 on signs and other expenses before she was bounced from the ballot, according to campaign documents. She hadn't raised any money from contributors through March 28, records show.
An elementary school teacher in the Delhi Unified School District, Sanchez looked to face off against the current superintendent, Steve Tietjen, and challenger Richard Lopez, the superintendent of Merced River School District.
Sanchez had pledged to run on a campaign of improving standardized test scores and installing a program aimed at girls. The Atwater resident also pledged to take a pay cut.
The June election will be the first challenge for Tietjen, who raised $16,243 in campaign contributions through April 21, according to election records.
Tietjen was appointed to the seat in April 2016 by the Merced County School Board after former Superintendent Steve Gomes retired. Before that he worked as superintendent of Los Banos Unified School District.
Lopez has tallied $2,250 in contributions through April 20, records show. He's been a superintendent since 2015 when he moved from his job as principal at Planada Elementary School.