Faculty union officials of the Los Angeles Community College District, who had pledged to oust members of the college board who supported faculty layoffs last year, claimed victory in the wake of Tuesday's primary election, which resulted in the defeat of one longtime trustee and a runoff for another incumbent.
The big loser on the trouble-plagued college board was Monroe Richman, a Sun Valley physician who presided over the board during a turbulent period last year when tenured faculty layoffs were ordered for the first time in the college district's history.
Richman, who was seeking his fifth term, ran a weak third behind Wallace Knox, a labor attorney who was the union's choice, and Patricia Hollingsworth, a college instructor. Knox, who captured 38% of the vote, and Hollingsworth, who got 22%, will meet in the June 2 general election.
Board member Marguerite Archie-Hudson fell just short of winning an outright majority of the votes and was forced into a runoff with Julia Wu, a school librarian endorsed by the union.
Harold Garvin, the only incumbent backed by the union, won the election outright with 62.5% of the vote. The former Harbor College instructor was the only trustee to oppose 157 faculty layoffs ordered last year during a major reorganization of the district.
Runoff for Open Seat
A fourth board race was for an open seat being vacated by Leticia Quezada, who ran successfully for an opening on the Los Angeles school board. A union candidate, USC professor David Lopez-Lee, was the top vote-getter. He will face Richard E. Ferraro, a former school board member, in the runoff.
"The fact that Hal Garvin won overwhelmingly and that Monroe Richman was overwhelmingly rejected showed that the public considered the board leadership of last year unsatisfactory," union President Hal Fox said Wednesday.
Although almost all of the layoffs were eventually rescinded and the threatened instructors reassigned to other disciplines, the action provoked student demonstrations and faculty union representatives said it destroyed teachers' morale.
Richman could not be reached for comment. But Hudson, who voted for the layoffs last year, blamed her failure to avoid a June runoff on the union, which she accused of "confusing the issues" during the campaign. She cited the 11% rise in last fall's enrollment as proof that the board was on the right track when it sought, through the layoffs and reassignments, to reorganize the colleges' educational programs.
Garvin, however, agreed with Fox that Tuesday's election results sent a message to the board that no more cuts should be made in the district's educational staff or programs, "no matter how dire the economic situation is."
The board voted in March to consider an additional 59 faculty layoffs this year as one of a series of actions needed to alleviate serious financial problems. The district has projected a $17-million shortfall over the next two years, and is looking for ways to close the gap.
Unlike the city school board, which elects members by district, college trustees are elected at large. Garvin attempted to change the election procedure at a board meeting Wednesday with a proposal to establish trustee districts, which he said could save the district up to $1 million a year in election costs and encourage a higher voter turnout.
"Our election process is fantastically bad," he said, "and it embarrasses me to say that, having just won."
The measure was defeated by a 4-2 vote, however, with opponents arguing that dividing the college district into several electoral districts is impractical and would result in poor policy decisions.