Control of Inglewood Council, School Board at Stake on Tuesday : Incumbents Spend Little Time, Money on Education Election

Times Staff Writer

Although candidates in Tuesday's Inglewood school board runoff have contrasting positions on issues, the greatest difference has been in their style of campaigning.

Incumbents W. R. (Tony) Draper and William Dorn, often bitter opponents in their one term on the board, have spent little time and even less money on their reelection bids.

Meanwhile, their challengers, Lois Hill Hale and Zyra McCloud, are pouring money, volunteers and flyers into their campaigns.

"I really don't think a lot of people are going to get excited about a school board race," said Draper, who received just over one-third of the vote in the April 7 primary. "I don't think sending out a bunch of mailers is going to make a lot of difference."

Draper has spent $1,520 on his campaign for the 4th Seat, depending almost exclusively on appearances at community forums. His opponent, Hill Hale, spent $23,835 through May 30, most of it on mailers to voters.

Hill Hale, the chief deputy for state Sen. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles), said she raised the money "to provide enough information to the constituents so they'll know who I am, what my background is and what I will do if I'm elected."

McCloud, president of the Inglewood PTA Councils, has spent more than $8,000 in her quest to oust Dorn from Seat 5. She has used an army of volunteers to pass out flyers.

Dorn, who more than doubled McCloud's vote in the primary, has done little campaigning. He reported raising only $1,000, that a donation from himself. And he spent it not on his own campaign, but on the failed campaign to raise the Inglewood mayor's salary.

Dorn has appeared at few candidates forums and refuses to speak to the press.

The districtwide election is expected to draw considerably fewer voters than the 7,693 who turned out in April, according to the city clerk's office.

But the election could decide the control of the board of the 15,000-student district for the next two years. Dorn, Ernest Shaw and Caroline Coleman form a tenuous three-vote majority on most major issues before the five-member board, with Draper and Rosemary Benjamin usually in opposition.

Dorn, Shaw and Coleman are each leaders in the Inglewood Democratic Club, which is headed by Inglewood Mayor Edward T. Vincent. Draper is an opponent of the mayor, who trounced him in November's mayoral election by a 5-1 margin.

Dorn's faction in March voted to approve a controversial 10% pay raise for the district's teachers, who had twice staged one-day walkouts to demand the increase.

Dorn helped engineer the raise's passage, but Draper opposed the measure, arguing that the raise would be fiscally disastrous for the district. Each now is being criticized by his opponent for his stand on the issue.

Draper and Dorn each finished first for his respective seat in April's primary, but failed to get the majority vote needed to avoid a runoff.

Draper, 43, a manager at Hughes Aircraft Co., outpolled Hill Hale by almost 500 ballots, getting 35.8% of the vote to Hill Hale's 28.7%. Hill Hale edged third-place finisher Loystene Irvin by 187 votes.

A Larger Edge

Dorn amassed an even larger edge over McCloud--almost 2,000 votes. Dorn got 43.9% of the vote to McCloud's 16.3%, with four other candidates splitting the rest.

Hill Hale, 52, has accused Draper of "fostering negativism and dissension on the board." Promising to be a "unifying force," she has criticized Draper for publicly attacking the other board members and for opposing the teachers' raise.

"He was . . . furious that the teachers will be getting just compensation for their work," said Hill Hale, who taught elementary school for seven years in Los Angeles. The raises were necessary for the district to attract and keep good teachers, she said.

Hill Hale said that, if elected, she will concentrate on eliminating drugs, gangs and crime.

"There are many innovative programs that the board can adopt to help the children, instead of the personal agendas and vendettas that now split the board," Hill Hale said.

She said she would push, for instance, for a high school performing arts program in drama, dance, art and debating "to motivate the children so that the talented ones won't leave the district after elementary school."

The program could be implemented without raising extra money by "better management" of available district funds, she said.

Draper says the issue in the campaign is fiscal responsibility, and that Hill Hale's proposals would cost too much.

$1-Million Price Tag

"The programs she is proposing are nothing but political rhetoric," Draper said. "To start a performing arts school would require at least $1 million, and I think it's kind of ridiculous for her to say we can find that kind of money."

Draper said he opposed the teachers' pay raise because it would lead to a $2-million budget deficit. He said his prediction is now coming to pass.

"We're having a tough time trying to balance the budget," Draper said. "People who couldn't understand what I was trying to say are now asking why we are going to have to cut their program."

A shortage of funds may force the district to cut items such as the University and College Opportunity Program, which advises students on what classes to take if they plan to go to college, he said.

"What we're going to have to do is decide what the district needs most," Draper said. "But no matter what we do, some people aren't going to like it."

Spending Criticized

He said, however, that he opposes the administration's proposal to cut back custodians' schedules to 11 months of work a year.

"Those are the lowest paid people," he said. "To take a month out of their living expenses would be rather drastic."

Draper criticized Hill Hale for her 16-1 advantage in campaign spending, terming it "ridiculous for someone running for the board of a school district this size."

"It's just a political thing on her part," Draper said. "She is just using the school board as a place to jump into politics. We would have been better off if she would have donated the money to the district. It could have almost paid for another counselor."

Draper said he is using old flyers and signs and will not spend any more money on the campaign.

Campaign spending reports show that of 34 contributors donating $100 or more, 26 list addresses outside the district. Hill Hale said most of the contributors own businesses in Inglewood.

"I don't have to apologize for that," Hill Hale said of her fund-raising. "To say that a person gives a candidate money doesn't mean that person has control. To say that is ignorance of the process. Advertising is expensive."

1985 Incident Recalled

In the race for the other seat, McCloud has criticized Dorn, an orthopedic surgeon, for excessive absenteeism from board meetings and accused him of living in Santa Monica, outside the district.

"My opponent is always talking about how he doesn't take his stipend from the district," McCloud said. She was referring to Dorn's practice of not accepting his pay. "What difference does it make, if he doesn't attend the meetings?"

Board members are paid $400 a month.

There is a history of tension between the two candidates.

McCloud, a 35-year-old tutor, was thrown out of a 1985 board meeting by a security officer on orders of then-President Dorn, who said she was being disruptive. McCloud said she was ejected because she was organizing a recall drive against Dorn, Coleman and Shaw.

McCloud, whose petition drive failed to get enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, has filed suit against the district alleging that she was injured during the scuffle.

Dorn in a brief March interview, defended his attendance record as equal to that of other board members. Dorn, 46, said he has several residences, including an Inglewood house at which he is registered to vote. He said his main residence is in Ladera Heights, an unincorporated area that is part of the Inglewood school district.

Board minutes show that Dorn has missed six of the 33 regular meetings since January, 1985. No other board member has more than three absences. Of 10 special meetings held since January, 1985, Dorn has missed seven and was late for the other three, according to the minutes.

Dorn has strong support in local politics in part because his uncle is Superior Court Judge Roosevelt Dorn, who has long been a power in the Inglewood Democratic Club.

McCloud argues that the board majority has "poorly managed the district's budget" by trying to administer the district rather than follow its state-mandated function of setting policy.

"The superintendent's power has been usurped," McCloud said. "We need to give the power of administration back to the superintendent instead of the board."

She also alleged that Dorn is controlled by the "political machine" of Mayor Vincent and the Inglewood Democratic Club.

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