CV School Board Member Runs Against Colleague

By Alberto Garcia
Investigative Reporter

A Chula Vista school board Trustee whose term in not up until 2026 took the unusual step of challenging one of his incumbent colleagues in her November re-election, setting up an unprecedented situation where two sitting members will be running for the same seat. 

Francisco Tamayo, who was first elected to the Chula Vista Elementary School District in 2014, was re-elected in 2018 and again in 2022. His current term for Area 1 will end in December 2026. 

Francisco Tamayo
Francisco Tamayo


Chula Vista Elementary School District Trustees run for one of five specific Area seats but all receive votes from the entire district which covers all of the City of Chula Vista.

Although his current term doesn't end until December 2026, this week Tamayo filed candidate paperwork to run against Trustee Kate Bishop who was elected in Area 4 in 2020. 

Tamayo 501 Form

Bishop, who is running for re-election for the first time in November, received more votes than any candidate that has ever run for her school board, having garnered 66,229 votes.

Kate Bishop
Kate Bishop

Tamayo received 43,808 votes in his 2022 re-election and 15,329 votes in his first race in 2014. He ran unopposed in 2018. 

Both Tamayo and Bishop are registered Democrats and were each endorsed by the Party in their previous elections.

Bishop has already received several endorsement for her campaign, including the CV. classified employees union and the Firefighters Local 2180 union.

If Tamayo were to win the November election, he would simply switch seats but would create a vacancy in his current Area which could then be filed by the remaining Trustees, including Tamayo. 

Another one of the Boardmembers, Cesar Fernandez, is running for a seat on the Chula Vista City Council. Fernandez, who was elected to a four-term in November 2022 and is not up for re-election until 2026, would create a vacancy on the school board if he wins his City Council campaign.

Cesar Fernandez
Cesar Fernandez

If both Tamayo and Fernandez win their respective campaigns they would create two vacancies on the five-member school board and the three remaining members, including Tamayo, could vote to fill both. 

But if Tamayo and/or Fernandez were to lose there campaigns they would remain in their  current seat until 2026 when he could choose to run for re-election for a fourth term. 

The move to challenge another sitting Trustee on the same board is unprecedented and it is not clear why Tamayo would choose to run such a campaign. 

There have been elections where state legislators or congressmembers chose to switch districts when they move, their district boundaries change due to reapportionments, or they chose more politically aligned areas, but none of those issues affect Tamayo. 

Bishop was being challenged by Dr. Alexis Aviña until last month when Aviña withdrew from the race for medical reasons. 

Alexis Aviña
Dr. Alexis Aviña

When Aviña dropped out, a local labor union, along with political consultant Jesus Cardenas, began trying to recruit another candidate against Bishop. 

Cardenas, who pleaded guilty to two felony charges in March related to a fraudulent COVID-era federal loan and false unemployment benefits claims, has been working against Bishop’s re-election.

Jesus Cardenas
Jesus Cardenas

In May, Cardenas and his sister, former Chula Vista Councilwoman Andrea Cardenas, voted against Bishop’s endorsement during a meeting of the San Diego County Democratic Party’s South Area delegates. 

Bishop secured the Party’s endorsement. 

Andrea Cardenas, who also pleaded guilty to two felony counts related to the same fraudulent federal loan and false unemployment benefits claims, resigned from her Council seat just a week before pleading guilty in a deal with prosecutors. She will be sentenced in late August and faces up to one year in county jail.

Andrea Cardenas
Andrea Cardenas

During his 2022 election, Tamayo donated $8,000 from his campaign to a political committee created by Jesus Cardenas called the San Diego Democratic Leadership PAC. 

That PAC then paid money to Impact Strategies, a company owned by Jesus Cardenas. 

Cardenas' San Diego Democratic Leadership PAC also spent money this year to support the re-election campaign for Andrea Cardenas after she was indicted. 

Tamayo’s campaigns also moved $17,000 to the San Diego County Democratic Party in 2022. During that period, Jesus Cardenas was being paid to run the Party’s campaign outreach in the South Bay for several candidates, including Tamayo, as well as Ammar Campa-Najjar's failed campaign for Chula Vista Mayor. 

Candidates have until August 9th to file their final paperwork to become official candidates on the November 5th election ballot. 

CV Elementary School District Board