Upton Sinclair

Partisan rhetoric inflames college board race

A political campaign focused on a troubled community college construction program has suddenly veered into a noisy side battle with cries of censorship, stealth candidates and "tea party" takeover.

Scott Svonkin, a senior advisor to L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca, and Lydia Gutierrez, a Long Beach schoolteacher, face off Tuesday for a seat on the Los Angeles Community College District board. The two candidates, neither of whom won a majority in the March primary, agree on reexamining the campus building effort. But the similarities end there.

Svonkin ran in the March primary on a Democratic slate with incumbents Mona Field and Miguel Santiago, who oversaw the...