Drop-Out Pasadena School Board Candidate Still Forces Runoff

Times Staff Writer

Juan Francisco Lara, who dropped out of the school board race early in the campaign, was unwillingly brought back into the political arena Tuesday night after he won enough votes to force a runoff election against George A. Padilla.

With almost no campaigning, Lara still received 4,024 votes, or 27% of the total votes cast for Seat 1 on the board of the Pasadena Unified School District.

Padilla won 6,974 votes, or 46.7%, and Arlene Moncrief 3,924 votes, or 26.3%.

Although Padilla was the top vote-getter, he fell short of winning the necessary 50% of the vote to take the seat outright.


“I guess people just didn’t know Lara dropped out of the race; that was it,” Padilla said. “I tell you, it’s unbelievable.”

Only Clear Victory

In the race for Seat 3, incumbent James McBath and Wilbert L. Smith will also be heading for a runoff election April 18.

In the only clear victory, incumbent Anne W. Pursel easily won a second four-year term on the board by defeating real estate broker Frank D. Rocha in the race for Seat 5 by a vote of 12,157 to 2,674.


Lara, who dropped out in February for unspecified personal and professional reasons, said he was baffled by his showing in the election and has no plans to campaign against Padilla.

He said he is trying to figure out if there is a legal way to get off the runoff ballot.

“I will not be actively involved, and I’m certainly not interested in having the city spend more money on another election,” said Lara, who was the assistant dean of the Graduate School of Education at UCLA until he resigned in February.

Court Order

City Clerk Pamela Swift said Lara’s only option is to sue the city.

But she said the city would have to receive a court order to remove Lara’s name in the next week before the sample and actual ballots for the runoff are printed.

“If it doesn’t happen by next Friday, we’re going to press,” Swift said.

Padilla, a civil engineer who runs his own consulting firm in Pasadena, was also stunned by the election results, but he was confident that he could win the seat even if Lara re-entered the campaign.


In the race for Seat 3, McBath won 6,687 votes, or 44% of the total cast, and Smith received 6,086 votes, or 40.1%. Alicia Woods and Dennis D. Scott split the remaining votes.

McBath is a professor of communications at USC. Smith is a vice president of national accounts for Bank of America.


SCHOOL DISTRICT 88 of 88 precincts, 16% turnout

District 1

Vote % George A. Padilla 6,974 46.7 Juan Francisco Lara 4,024 27.0 Arlene Moncrief 3,924 26.3

District 3

Vote % James H. McBath (Inc.) 6,687 44.0 Wilbert Smith 6,086 40.1 Alicia Woods 1,297 8.5 Dennis D. Scott 1,125 7.4


District 5

Vote % Anne W. Pursel (Inc.) 12,157 82.0 Frank D. Rocha 2,674 18.0