The Newport-Mesa Federation of Teachers has endorsed Judy Franco and Katrina Foley for the Nov. 2 school board election, and some union members have been out campaigning for the pair.
Franco has more than 30 years of experience on the school board and is facing a challenge for her Trustee Area 5 seat from Loretta Zimmerman. Incumbent Michael Collier, who has sat on the board for four years, is defending his Trustee Area 2 seat against Foley, a Costa Mesa city councilwoman.
Kimberly Claytor, president of the teachers' union, said that the more than 1,200-strong federation decided to back Franco and Foley in August, but has been getting the word out recently on the campaign trail. The union dubbed one of its more recent get-togethers with Franco as "Being Frank with Franco."
Collier, in an interview Tuesday, said he was disappointed that the teacher's union didn't endorse him, seeing that he was part of the current board that helped prevent teacher furloughs while also giving them a big bump in salary a few years ago.
The salary increase effectively removed the Newport-Mesa teacher's union from one of the bottom rungs of salaries in Orange County, according to Collier.
"I'm sort of sad," said Collier, whose children attended schools on Costa Mesa's Westside and who's running on a platform of improving test scores while trying to erase the negative image some people have of Westside schools.
"We've done a good job for teachers," added Collier, referring to the school board. "We are the ones who are proven. We brought the teachers up from the bottom of the county to No. 2, paywise. I don't know what the deal is."
Claytor pointed out that it was nothing personal, and she commended Collier for serving on the board.
Zimmerman said she has a lot of respect for the teachers of the district and she knows what it takes, after having worked and volunteered in the classroom for many years.
"I'm grateful for all the work they do for the students," Zimmerman said. "The fact that teacher union officials backed Judy just shows how hard it is to break from the status quo with a 30-year incumbent."
Zimmerman said she feels very good with the support she's received from all across the district and from "all types of people" who know her and who support her.
"I feel pretty good about it," she said. "You never know which way an election is going to go. I've been working very, very hard and have been to many of the forums that the city has been putting on. I've gotten a lot of positive feedback."