They've photographed him in his skivvies picking up the morning paper in Coronado and gone door-to-door at his downtown loft, asking his neighbors if they know who he is. Now, a group of parents has filed an official complaint against San Diego Board of Education member Ron Ottinger to get him to vacate his seat, arguing he doesn't legally reside in the district he represents.
An article last month in the Union-Tribune revealed that Ottinger maintains two residences-one with his wife and kids in Coronado and the other at a downtown loft on 4th Avenue. The downtown loft is within the boundaries of District D, one of the five school board districts.
Ottinger was elected to a four-year term in November 2000 and has said he's considering running again in 2004. While Ottinger is registered to vote at his downtown address-a factor in determining legal residency-the complaint, filed July 15 with the state Attorney General's Office, argues Ottinger has no intention of making that his permanent home. State election code says that a person must permanently reside where he or she is registered to vote and, “at any given time, a person may have only one domicile.”
Ottinger is president of the Board of Education and part of the board majority that supports Superintendent Alan Bersin's education reforms. Voters for Truth in Education (VOTE), the nonprofit advocacy group behind the complaint, is vehemently anti-Bersin.
Mike MacCarthy, president of VOTE, said Ottinger's failure to follow the law sets a bad example for the children he represents. “In the interests of the children and families of this city and the rule of law, Mr. Ottinger should voluntarily resign immediately or recuse himself from any further board votes until this residency issue has been fully resolved,” MacCarthy told CityBeat.
The complaint also targets the school district and the San Diego County Registrar of Voters for “failing to remove Ottinger from the voter rolls for District D.”
Ottinger declined a CityBeat request for comment on the complaint.