Pasadena Winners Play a Waiting Game

Times Staff Writer

George A. Padilla won an easy runoff victory over Juan Francisco Lara Tuesday for a seat on the Pasadena Unified Board of Education, but it may be another month before he can celebrate.

The election is being contested by Arlene Moncrief, who came in third in last month’s primary and has filed a suit seeking to nullify Padilla’s 4,862-to-2,178-vote victory.

Moncrief’s suit, filed last month against City Clerk Pamela Swift, claims the city violated the intent of the state Election Code by allowing a runoff between Padilla and Lara, who withdrew from the campaign two months ago.

A hearing on the case is scheduled for May 19 in Pasadena Superior Court.


In the election for another seat on the five-member school board, Wilbert L. Smith defeated incumbent James H. McBath by a vote of 4,215 to 3,407.

Smith, 38, a vice president with Bank of America in Los Angeles, said his victory was a sign that voters wanted new and more aggressive leadership.

McBath, 63, a professor of communications at USC, said he was disappointed not only at his loss, but also at the extremely low turnout. Of 104,373 registered voters in the district, 7,769 cast ballots.

“Devastating,” he said. “It’s just a shame so few voted.”


Moncrief’s suit stems from the unusual turn of events that followed Lara’s withdrawal from the race because of unspecified personal reasons.

Although Lara stopped campaigning, he came in second behind Padilla in the March primary.

Because no candidate won more than 50% of the vote, a runoff was scheduled between the top two vote-getters: Padilla and Lara.

Lara, 45, a former assistant dean of the UCLA Graduate School of Education, wanted the city to take his name off the ballot, but that required a court order, which he never sought.


Moncrief claims her name should have been on the runoff ballot instead of Lara’s so the voters would have a choice between two active candidates.

“It was ridiculous having a runoff with only one candidate,” she said.

Expresses Sympathy

Padilla, 43, a civil engineer who runs his own consulting firm in Pasadena, said he sympathized with Moncrief’s argument, but said the result of Tuesday’s election is valid.


After the final vote was announced Tuesday night, Padilla said he was relieved the long and confusing campaign had come to an end.

“It has been strange,” he said.

But Moncrief, 57, an auditor for the Internal Revenue Service, said she plans to continue her suit and will ask the court to throw out the election.

“I’m kind of locked in,” she said. “The judge may say, ‘Arlene, you’re all wet.’ But I’m going to stay with this to the end.”


LOCAL ELECTIONS (Inc.) designates incumbent officeholder. Winners, when determined, in bold type followed by an asterisk. Runoff candidates in italic type .


SCHOOL DISTRICT 19 of 19 precincts. 9.8% turnout.

2 vacancies


Vote Mary E. Dougherty (Inc.)* 2,110 Joann E. Steinmeier* 2,061 Timothy Westlin 509 Larry M. Lewis 407


SCHOOL DISTRICT RUNOFF 88 of 88 precincts. 7.4% turnout.

Seat 1


Vote % George A. Padilla* 4,862 69.1 Juan Francisco Lara 2,178 30.9

Seat 3

Vote % Wilbert Smith* 4,215 55.3 James H. McBath (Inc.) 3,407 44.7



MAYOR RUNOFF 25 of 25 precincts. 15.3% turnout.

Vote % Donna Smith (Inc.) 4,068 64.8 G. Stanton Selby 2,214 35.2