After three months of discussion, on May 20 trustees voted to approve a transition plan. The rollout will begin with the Nov. 5 election. The ballot will include trustees Karen Clardy, Eron Linn and Katie Patterson.
Of those trustees, only Patterson will not seek re-election. Linn's Place 5 seat will become District 2, and Clardy's Place 3 seat will become District 5. Both trustees reside in their new districts and are therefore eligible to run for re-election.
In January, the district settled a lawsuit brought by a former trustee who accused RISD’s at-large voting system of not only favoring white candidates but also discouraging minority candidates from seeking election.
Under the terms of the settlement, five of the board’s seven trustees will be elected by residents of a specific geographic area, while two will be elected by voters districtwide.
The plan contends that Place 2 and 6 seats, held by Kim Caston and Justin Bono, respectively, will transition to at-large districts. Those seats will appear on the May 2020 and May 2021 ballots.
The remaining five places will become single-member districts. All board members will be allowed to complete their terms before the new system takes full effect.
District 3 and 4 have been deemed “opportunity districts,” meaning the majority of voting-age residents are of a minority race. Superintendent Jeannie Stone advocated for at least one of those districts to appear on the November ballot. The other opportunity area—District 3—will be up for grabs in May 2020.
The filing period for those interested in running for board office will open July 22 and close August 19. An informational meeting will be held in mid-to-late July to help potential candidates understand the responsibilities, vision and goals of the board, Caston said.
|Election cycle||Current place||Held by||New district|
|November 2019||Place 3||Karen Clardy||District 5|
|November 2019||Place 4||Katie Patterson*||District 4|
|November 2019||Place 5||Eron Linn||District 2|
|May 2020||Place 6||Justin Bono||At-large|
|May 2020||Place 7||Kristin Kuhne*||District 3|
|May 2021||Place 1||Jean Bono||District 1|
|May 2021||Place 2||Kim Caston||At-large|
*Will not seek re-election at term's end