Asian-American educator Gloria Sun Hom, whose opposition to bilingual education legislation cost her an appointment to the state Board of Education last year, won Senate confirmation Tuesday as a trustee of the California State University system.
The action seemed to indicate a mellowing among some Senate Democrats toward appointees of Gov. George Deukmejian as the retiring Republican chief executive fills the last remaining vacancies of his term.
The vote was 30 to 9, with 27 needed for approval.
Even Senate leader David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles), who has battled Deukmejian fiercely for nearly eight years over key appointees, led the way to confirm Hom. .
Roberti reminded Hom's opponents that he had "disagreed" with her, but he said: "If we vote for people on their qualifications rather than on a disagreement or a litmus test on one issue, she is someone we should vote for. . . . We will never make any progress if a litmus test in representative government is the only thing we take into consideration."
Roberti argued that reasonable people can disagree over bilingual education but that "doesn't go to her credentials as being an extraordinarily fine appointment" to fill a two-year term as a trustee of the state university system.
Hom, a professor at Mission College in Santa Clara, said she is fluent in two dialects of Chinese and also speaks some French, Thai and Tagalog. She had drawn heavy fire for lobbying as a member of the Board of Education against a bill that would have restored state control over local bilingual programs. Hom wanted the controls left with local school officials. Deukmejian ultimately vetoed the measure.
Later, the governor appointed Hom to the state university board where she has served as an unconfirmed member. Unconfirmed members may serve for a maximum of one year.
Sen. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles), usually a champion of women and minorities, charged that Hom "has demonstrated a particular bias and a slant that is not healthy for a state whose demographics are changing every day."
But Sen. Marion Bergeson of Newport Beach, the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor and one of several Republican and Democratic defenders of Hom, countered that as an educator of Chinese ancestry, Hom "certainly is sensitive to the needs of the minority population, being one herself."
Earlier in the day, Roberti backed Deukmejian in overriding the opposition of organized labor and won confirmation of hospital executive James T. Rude of Sacramento to the state Industrial Welfare Commission.