Somewhere between kingmakers and influencers may be an apt description of the Glendale Teachers Assn.'s Political Action Committee, or PAC.
The six-member group is in the process of setting up candidate interviews with the intent to eventually offer endorsements for two seats on the Glendale Unified school board and two positions on the Glendale Community College board of trustees, along with three seats on the Glendale City Council that will be decided by voters on March 3.
The Glendale City Clerk is accepting candidacy forms until Dec. 3.
“[The Glendale Teachers Assn.] has been quite a major political player in the community for years,” said the association’s vice president Alicia Harris, who, among her many hats, is chair of the association’s PAC as well as being a government teacher at Crescenta Valley High School.
Harris said she is encouraging any candidate in the March 3 election to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an interview with the PAC.
Doing so may be politically advantageous.
Harris was in charge of the teachers association’s PAC two years ago when it offered endorsements in the Glendale Unified school board elections for incumbents Greg Krikorian and Armina Gharpetian as well as newcomer Shant Sahakian.
All three won at the polls.
“Currently, all five that are on the school board we endorsed in their last election,” Harris said. “It’s something we’re proud of.”
The PAC plans to conduct interviews on Dec. 11 and, according to Taline Arsenian, president of the Glendale Teachers Assn., the organization is looking “to identify pro-public education, pro-student candidates.”
PAC members will then make their endorsement recommendations to the association’s board of directors on Dec. 13. Those recommendations will go to a vote by the GTA representative council on Dec. 17.
Whatever that body decides is expected to be announced that day.
“I would hope that the community respects the teacher’s perspective of who decision-makers are for our school district would be, because those five elected officials make decisions that affect almost all aspects of schooling,” Arsenian said.
Beyond school board races, Harris said she thinks the 1,250-member teachers association is also a large stakeholder in city elections.
“For the most part, the Glendale city limits are where our children live, where the kids in our school community live,” she said, acknowledging some slivers, like the La Cañada Flintridge Sagebrush area, fall outside city boundaries.
“So, we certainly have a vested interest in the city,” Harris said.
Candidates who earn an endorsement from the association will receive a cash stipend for their campaigns and will be allowed to use the union’s logo on campaign materials.
Harris said that, in some instances, the PAC has also run an independent expenditure campaign for a candidate, on a much smaller scale than the national PACs for presidential contenders.
Union members who object to dues being used for political purposes can, according to Harris, opt out and have their dues forwarded to a union general fund.
For her part, Arsenian is asking all residents 18 years old and older to register to vote at rockthevote.com and participate in the election process.
“Don’t forget to have your voice heard by [exercising] one of the most important rights on this planet, voting in the March 3, 2020 elections,” she said.