SMMUSD HDQRTRS – Nimish Patel, who pulled out a surprise victory in the 2010 Board of Education election, will not be running again.

Patel’s role at as his law firm has expanded and he said he wants to be able to devote time to his family including his two children.

“Deciding not to seek reelection was a painstaking decision for me because serving on the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District board has been one of the greatest honors of my life,” he said in an e-mail to the Daily Press. “But my professional obligations have recently increased substantially, and I need to make sure that I balance this with being an attentive husband and an involved dad. I am so grateful to my business colleagues and family for being supportive over the past four years and giving me time to dedicate to public service, one of the greater joys in life.”

Patel is the lone board member who is not endorsed by Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights, the city’s largest political party.

He raised $90,000 in the 2010 race but failed to win a major endorsement, according to Daily Press archives.

Still, he managed to place fourth in the race for four seats, unseating then-Board President Barry Snell.

“I will always cherish the relationships I’ve established with my fellow board members, the superintendent and the amazing district staff,” Patel said in the e-mail. “Most importantly I want to thank my constituents from the city of Santa Monica and Malibu for their support and for reaffirming why I love this community so much. Because public service is something my family and I cherish, I intend to remain involved in the community but in a different capacity.”

Patel’s vacancy means that at least one seat will be open in this year’s race. The terms of three other members are also set to expire this year.

Laurie Lieberman, who served as the board president last year, is the only member to file re-election paperwork, according to City Hall’s campaign disclosure website. She filed her first papers in January. Lieberman was the top vote-getter in 2010.

The term of Oscar de la Torre, founder of the Pico Youth and Family Center and co-chair of the Pico Neighborhood Association, is also set to expire at the end of this year. Earlier this month, he told the Daily Press that he has not yet decided whether or not he plans to run for City Council this year.

Ralph Mechur, current vice-president of the board, is also at the end of his term.

Boardmember Ben Allen is not up for re-election this November but he is running for State Senate. Earlier this month he was the top vote-getter in the primary election. He’ll face-off with Sandra Fluke in November. If elected, he would have to vacate his seat on the board.

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