Locasl Elections : 89 Campaign for Seats on School, College Boards

Times Staff Writer

Eighty-nine candidates, including 27 incumbents, are seeking election to seats on 16 Southeast Los Angeles County school and community college boards on Tuesday.

Issues range from power struggles with administrators to student drug abuse, from spending cuts to fluctuating school enrollments.

In three districts--El Rancho Unified School District, Little Lake City School District and Lowell Joint School District--incumbents are not being challenged.


Here is a rundown of key races:

ABC Unified School District--Twelve candidates are competing for four board seats, including two vacated seats. Two longtime members of the ABC Board of Education, Elizabeth Hutcheson and Dianne Xitco, are not seeking reelection.

Homer Lewis, 56, is seeking his third four-year term on the seven-member board. Lewis, a project engineer with TRW in Redondo Beach, said he “will work to ensure that the superintendent has the staff and resources needed to be successful. I will also work to increase the awareness that ABC is a great district to live and work in.”

He said he will spend about $3,000, most of it his own.

Incumbent Richard Arthur, 59, is a teacher at Jefferson High School in Los Angeles and a part-time professor of education at Chapman College in Orange.

Arthur said he is running against candidates “who sound like they are anti-teacher. I’m pro-teacher.” He said he wants to raise the salaries of ABC teachers. He criticized “people who want to be rubber stamps for the administration.”

He said he would spend about $2,000 in the campaign.

Carlos Navejas, 37, is endorsed by Arthur, who says Navejas would be independent of the district administration.

Navejas served as a city councilman in Hawaiian Gardens between 1976 and 1980. His wife, Kathleen Mello Navejas, is currently vice mayor of Hawaiian Gardens.


Navejas, a real estate broker, said he is concerned that no one from Hawaiian Gardens is on the board. He said if he is elected he will focus on having money spent by the district to upgrade the schools in Hawaiian Gardens.

The ABC Federation of Teachers has endorsed Navejas, who said he will spend about $2,500 on his campaign.

Julie Hanson, 43, a medical assistant for a Cerritos family physician, was also endorsed by the teacher’s union. She has been active in school affairs for 14 years, especially the district’s Parent-Teacher Organization. All of her children, now grown, attended ABC schools, Hanson said.

Combatting drug and alcohol abuse among students is her No. 1 priority, Hanson said. She is president of the Cerritos chapter of ICAAN, which stands for Involved Community Against Alcohol and Narcotics.

Hanson said she probably will spend about $5,000 on her campaign.

Bob Hughlett, 40, director of programs for the disabled at Cerritos College, said he is calling for long-range planning for the ABC district.

John H. Moore, 39, believes the most important issues are the threats of alcohol, drugs and gang activities.


“I’m not trying to alarm anyone. But I think a little preventive maintenance would help,” said Moore, an account manager with Oscar Mayer Food Co. in Los Angeles.

Moore is vice president of Involved Community Against Alcohol and Narcotics. He said if he is elected he would call for more campus security and increased patrols by the Sheriff’s Department. He said he expects to spend about $2,500.

Dixie Primosch, 42, is running for the school board for the first time after years of active involvement in district affairs. Primosch is a long-time critic of the district administration. She was a member of a group of parents--including candidates Jim Weisenberger and George Medina--who requested a county Grand Jury investigation last year into alleged mismanagement in the district.

The Grand Jury turned up no evidence of wrongdoing but suggested the appropriate forum for such complaints about the district was the ballot box.

Primosch said her main issue is the district’s lack of a master plan. “There is no plan in fiscal, capital improvement or policy planning,” she said. “A five-year master plan would evaluate each school, look at the strengths and weaknesses.”

Primosch runs a home computer programming system with her husband, Tom. She has raised $4,186, according to the latest financial statements filed with the county registrar-recorder’s office.


George Medina, 50, is running for the board for the second time, after an unsuccessful attempt two years ago. Medina, president of his own audit and management consultant firm in Buena Park, is critical of the district for what he calls “a lack of accountability.”

He said “a responsible board would hold the administration accountable. There is a lack of leadership on the board.” Medina said he would call for a review of all fiscal policies to identify unnecessary expenditures and push to develop a system to measure the productivity of administrators. He said he also would allocate more money in the budget for textbooks and supplies.

Medina had raised more than $3,800, according to the latest campaign financial statements.

Jim Weisenberger, 39, said that although he has been linked with Primosch and Medina in criticizing the district management polices, he is not running on a slate of any kind.

“I’m running by myself. I intend to continue to do so,” said Weisenberger, who is supervisor of operations for the Southern California Edison Co. plant in El Segundo.

Weisenberger said he is calling for sound financial planning and management. He said a deficit had placed the district in a “precarious position.”

Weisenberger had raised more than $3,800, according to financial disclosure statements.

A. Cecy Groom, 41, a public accountant who owns a management consultant firm in Cerritos, said she is campaigning on accountability. The district, she said, has an obligation to let “taxpayers know how their money is being spent, to keep the budget simple so a lay person can understand” where the money is going.


According to the latest financial reports, Groom had raised more than $6,000.

Sally Morales Havice, 49, an English professor at Cerritos College, is making her second attempt at the board. She ran in 1979.

“We should educate the children through the schools on the dangers of drugs. If elected, I would investigate putting some type of hot line on campuses to allow students to call to get help and information,” Havice said.

Bertrand Dionne, 66, a long-time critic of the board, ran unsuccessfully for the board in 1985. He said he does not think he has a chance of winning.

“I attended board meetings for a year and a half. They ignored me. The board is essentially a rubber stamp and the hired hand. The superintendent runs the board,” said Dionne, an aerospace engineer for McDonnell Douglas in Long Beach.

Dionne said he is going door-to-door distributing leaflets left over from his last attempt at the board. He said he did not have money to run a campaign this time.

There are 42,711 registered voters in the ABC district which covers all of Cerritos and portions of Artesia, Hawaiian Gardens, La Mirada, Lakewood, Long Beach, Norwalk and Santa Fe Springs.


Bellflower Unified School District--There are six candidates running for two seats. The district covers Bellflower and the northern section of Lakewood.

The candidates are John Heintzelman, 55; Phyllis John, 41; Dave Manuel, 20; Jay Gendreau, 29; Harvey Conn, 41; and Mike Lord, 41.

Gendreau, endorsed by the Bellflower Education Assn., a teacher union, is seeking his third term. He says that “for the first time I don’t see any burning issues in our district. Things are running pretty smoothly. There are no major budget problems. It’s kind of spooky it’s so quiet.”

Gendreau, the only incumbent, has endorsed John, saying she has been more active in the district than the other candidates.

He took critical shots at three other challengers, however. Heintzelman, Gendreau said, will have to explain why his daughter attends Valley Christian High School, rather than a Bellflower district school. And he questioned Lord’s and Conn’s affiliations with the downtown Bellflower Hosanna Chapel.

Gendreau says that if Lord and Conn, who ran two years ago as members of a Hosanna Chapel slate, “took power I wouldn’t want my kids to go to school. I have a problem with people who express fundamentalist and narrow views about what education should be.”


Heintzelman, a business manager for TRW, whose wife Sandra is a teacher at Ramona Elementary, said he is running because it is time for a change. “I think the opening of the new Craig Williams (Elementary) School was terribly disjointed. It was opened prematurely. Also, the board has seen fit to ignore CAP scores at the third-grade level. They are far below the standard for Los Angeles County. The maintenance program has not been cost-effective.”

Heintzelman defends sending his daughter to a private school. “Both to myself and my daughter, getting a Christian education was an important thing. You can only get that in a private school,” he said. “If that implies that I’m not interested in public schools, well that’s blatantly ridiculous.”

Conn, who serves on the Bellflower Planning Commission, is Hosanna’s administrator. Lord once ran a bookstore affiliated with the church.

Both have denied being part of a fundamentalist slate, but neither candidate could be reached for further comment.

Manuel, 20, says his youth and strong ties to the district give him an edge because “students feel they can relate to me.” Manuel is a partner in New Century Projects Inc. in Anaheim which organizes conventions, banquets and exhibits.

According to Manuel, the major issue is Gendreau’s “denial of any problems in the district. He thinks everything is hunky-dory. I don’t agree. I am a graduate of those schools. I spent 13 years there. I don’t feel I was properly prepared for the real world. That is a reflection of the policies of the school board. I’m doing well but no thanks to the schools.”


John, a homemaker, has been endorsed by the teacher’s union, the Bellflower Education Assn. She was PTA president for five years, serving on the district Budget Advisory Council and Financial Committees and on several other district-related organizations. “I know this district and how it works,” John said.

None of the candidates has reported raising more than $500.

The Bellflower Unified School District has an enrollment of 9,334 students.

Compton Unified School District--Three seats will be on the ballot, with at least one new board member guaranteed, since incumbent Lynn Dymally decided not to seek reelection.

Incumbents Mary B. Henry, 60, and Bernice Woods, 63, will attempt to hold onto their offices in a race that has drawn 15 challengers.

They are Margaret Moore, 54; Margaret D. Comer, 57; Hubert L. Parker, 66; Cloria L. Patillo, 55; James Hays Jr., 31; Carl E. Robinson, 52; Clara Chris, age unavailable; Van M. Christopher, 57; Betty James, 47; Rita Bright-Lavelle, 35; Saul E. Lankster, 42; Carroll V. White, 53; Acquanetta H. Warren, 31; Mae Thomas, 48; and Frederick D. Shaw, 59.

The campaign could seal the fate of Supt. Ted D. Kimbrough, who has held onto a tenuous 4-3 vote of confidence. Dymally has been a Kimbrough supporter, as is Henry. Woods opposes Kimbrough.

The district is Los Angeles County’s third largest, with more than 28,000 students.

Lynwood Unified School District--Eight candidates, including three incumbents, are competing for three seats.


Most candidates say construction of a new high school, which has been pending for more than four years, is the most pressing issue.

Incumbents are Richard Armstrong, 70; Willard Hawn Reed, 69; and Thelma Calvin Williams, who refused to give her age. Challengers are Rachel Chavez, 49; Margaret Araujo, 40; Charles Glenn, 40; William Wright Jr., 47; and Lena Cole Dennis, 40.

The school board has state money to build a new school to replace the aging, overcrowded Lynwood High, but it has had problems finding a site. Last year, the board voted to condemn approximately 36 acres of property; 12 acres is owned by the Sterik Co. and 20 acres is owned by the Seventh-day Adventist Academy. But the private school’s supporters have held numerous protests and are fighting the issue in court.

Armstrong, who has served on the board for 13 years, said he still favors that site. However, he said “maybe some deal can be worked out with the Adventists.” He was not specific.

Armstrong, who retired in 1982 as an accountant and general manager of the C.B. Equipment Co., said he is running on a slate with Reed and Chavez.

Chavez, a homemaker, has been active in school affairs. She said she did not solicit an endorsement but is running on a slate to reduce campaign expenses.


“The chief problem is overcrowding in schools. If I was on the board I would have voted to take the Adventist property. But I’m always willing to look at new information,” she said.

Reed is seeking his first full four-year term on the board. He replaced Jo Evelyn Terrell, who resigned in 1985.

”. . . Our problem is overcrowding,” Reed said. “I’m going with the Adventist site.” He said he sympathizes with the Adventists, but that the district is “so far down the road” it is impossible to change plans.

Another issue is boosting test scores, Reed said. “While the scores are nothing to brag about yet, we are up,” he said, crediting recent programs like the district’s Write to Read program.

Reed recently retired as a professor of engineering at California State University, Long Beach.

Williams is seeking her second four-year term on the board. Although she voted to condemn the Adventist property, she later publicly stated she changed her mind.


“Maybe we no longer need a new high school,” Williams said, noting that enrollment at Lynwood High School had been as high as 2,900 but has dropped to 2,200. The high school was built more than 30 years ago to house fewer than 1,000 students.

Williams is principal of Longfellow Elementary School in the Compton Unified School District.

Araujo is running for the school board for the second time. A community aide at Lynwood High School, she is active in community and school affairs.

She said she is not optimistic about getting a new school any time soon because of the legal fight. “ I would not have voted to take the Adventist property. I would have tried other methods. Maybe year-round school,” Araujo said.

Glenn, a parole agent for the state Department of Corrections, ran unsuccessfully for the board in 1985. He said he supports taking the Adventist property. “We don’t have a lot of options,” he said.

If elected, Glenn said he would push for state legislation that would establish a mandatory three-year prison sentence for a person caught selling drugs at school or near a campus.


Wright is principal of the Lynwood Adventist Academy, which would be closed if the public school district builds its new high school on the land.

Wright said he will not deny he is running to save the academy but he is also “running to bring about a change. This is an opportunity for a private entity to work with a public facility.” He has been principal of the academically successful academy for six years.

Dennis works as a public relations coordinator for Rockwell International in Downey.

She is proposing a five-point plan that she says would motivate students to stay in school, improve relationships with parents, teachers and community leaders.

The plan calls for parents, teachers and students to attend free workshops where effective methods to keep students in school would be discussed. Dennis said she also would encourage the school board and the Lynwood City Council to start communicating. She said it is important that the school board send representatives to the council meetings.

Paramount Unified School District--Three candidates, including one incumbent, are competing for two seats. Bill Carpenter, who had been on the board for eight years, is not running for reelection.

Ken Teeples, 44, is seeking his first full, four-year term after replacing a board member who died in office two years ago.


Teeples said he believes the Paramount school system is a good one. “It is not as bad as other school systems and I intend to see that it won’t become worse,” said Teeples, who has been a system engineer for Bank of America.

V. E. French, 53, served more than 12 years on the board before retiring in 1985. He sold his automotive business and planned to move from the area but changed his mind.

If elected, French said he will pay close attention to a dropout problem facing the district. “We need to have activities that will make them want to go to school. We also need to place a heavier emphasis on vocational training,” French said.

Vivian Hansen, 41, has been active in school district affairs for 10 years. She has held various offices in the Parent-Teacher Organization and served on the district’s lottery committee and substance abuse advisory committee.

She says she supports the district’s new anti-drug program.

Cerritos Community College District--There are 10 candidates, including three incumbents, competing for four seats. One of the four seats is vacant because Dale Hardeman, president of the board, resigned in July.

Longtime board member Harold T. Tredway, 68, is taking his usual low-key approach to reelection. Tredway, who has been on the seven-member board for 22 years, said he will neither campaign nor seek endorsements.


“I haven’t spent one cent. I’ve got my message through at candidate forums. If my record doesn’t warrant me getting reelected, I will not,” said Tredway, who lives in Downey.

Tredway is an attorney who retired in 1984 from a Downey firm where he was a partner.

Like most of the candidates in the community college contest, Tredway said he is concerned about enrollment at the college. Enrollment is 18,060 for the fall semester, while several years ago it was over 23,000.

Tredway said enrollment declines are a statewide problem, but he said Cerritos College is vigorously recruiting minority students.

Incumbent Katie Norbak, 59, has been on the board for 17 years. Norbak is a supervisor in the county clerk’s office of Superior Court in Orange County. She lives in La Mirada.

“We have a good school. We are sound academically and financially,” Norbak said.

As a way of improving the enrollment picture, she said the college will consider starting the fall semester later in the year, in hopes of picking up more high school graduates and students who did not enter four-year colleges. Presently, the Cerritos College fall starting date is in August when potential students are attending other summer sessions, working or are still attempting to get into four-year colleges that start later. Those students who are not accepted at four-year colleges or are no longer employed could apply to Cerritos with a later fall date, Norbak said.

Incumbent Barbara J. Hayden, 47, of Downey has been on the board for two years. She filled the unexpired term of a board member who resigned. She manages a small family-owned business which manufactures casings for bullet cartridges.


Hayden said she also is pushing for the later fall enrollment plan that the board is expected to discuss soon. Hayden lives in Downey.

Hayden to date has spent $3,750 on her campaign. She said she intends to spend less than $5,000.

Dorothy L. Carfrae, 36, is a lawyer who practices and lives in Downey. To improve enrollment, Carfrae said the college should start an aggressive marketing program to bring students to the campus and keep them there through counseling.

Carfrae has spent nearly $1,500. She said she does not intend to spend more than $4,000.

Dan K. Fox, 30, a doctor of chiropractic with a practice in Downey, also lives in Downey. Fox said he intends to spend less than $500. Fox said he also supports a full-time marketing program “to keep the college’s name out front” before the public “to let people know about the college benefits and qualities.” He says the college’s part-time marketing program now is insufficient.

Ben Pendleton, 26, of Bellflower, is running for the board for the first time. He said he graduated from Cerritos College in 1985. He said he is working toward a bachelor of arts degree in industrial arts at California State University, Long Beach.

Pendleton said he would like the college to establish an associate of science degree “that would be more geared toward the science than liberal arts.”


Pendleton said he expects to spend less than $500.

Ruth Banda, 39, is coordinator of the early outreach program at California State University, Dominguez Hills.

She said she would like Cerritos College officials to become more involved in community affairs. “Networking with other agencies would better serve and promote college programs,” she said.

Banda lives in Bellflower. She has raised more money than any of the candidates, $7,260. She has spent $5,939.

Ralph C. Kephart, 44, is a land title engineer with Chicago Title Insurance Co. in Pasadena. He lives in Bellflower.

“I’m committed to community college education. I grew up in a small town in Florida and the four-year college system was out of reach for me, both academically and financially,” Kephart said. After attending a community college, he went on to a university.

Kephart said he also would push for a more aggressive marketing program for the college.

He said he expects to spend about $3,600 on his campaign.

Stewart Luce, 48, manager of composites program planning at Northrop Advanced Systems Division in Pico Rivera, ran unsuccessfully in a special election four years ago.


Luce, who lives in Bellflower, said he would push for more vocational training at Cerritos College.

“I think there should be a 50-50 emphasis, a balance, between vocational and academic training,” Luce said.

Luce said he expects to spend less than $500.

Richard S. Bukowiecki, a sergeant with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department assigned to the Norwalk substation, could not be reached for comment.

A spokesman for the department said Bukowiecki was vacationing outside the country.

There are 164,269 registered voters in the Cerritos Community College District, which covers Artesia, Bellflower, Cerritos, Downey, portions of East Compton, East Whittier, Hawaiian Gardens, Lakewood, Long Beach, Norwalk, Santa Fe Springs and South Gate.

Compton Community College District--Three of the five trustee seats are up for election. And each incumbent is being opposed by the 235-member Compton Community College Federation of Employees. While there have been a variety of disputes between the trustees and the union, the two have most recently been engaged in a long-running contract dispute. Union leaders are also critical of the administration of college President Edison O. Jackson, who nevertheless has the full backing of trustees.

In Area 1, incumbent Emily Hart-Holified, a 47-year-old teacher in the Compton Unified School District, is seeking a fourth four-year term. She is being challenged by Vernice W. Dredd, 58, a job placement officer with the state employment service, and Richard E. Jennings, 35, who describes himself in his election statement as a “community leader.” The union is supporting Dredd.


In Area 3, incumbent Charlie Mae Knight, 54, is seeking her third term. Knight is a former Lynwood school superintendent who now presides over the Ravenswood City Elementary School District in East Palo Alto. She says she is still eligible to serve on the college board because she maintains a local residence. Knight’s lone challenger is David W. Litsinger, who is retired at 69.

Jane M. Astredo, a 49-year-old teacher in the Paramount Unified School District, is seeking a third term as Area 4 trustee. She is being opposed by Kit Keele, 37, who is also a Paramount teacher.

Times staff writers Bettina Boxall, Mary Lou Fulton, Richard Holguin and Rita Pyrillis contributed to this report.