A former teacher who 15 years ago led his Los Angeles colleagues in a five-week strike is seeking a second term on the board that governs the Claremont Unified School District, where he was an adversary of teachers during a recent strike.
An administrator for the Riverside Unified School District who sends his child to a parochial school in Pomona wants to be on the Pomona Unified School District board because, he said, "I feel strongly about public schools."
An El Monte City School District secretary hopes to lose her job because of the Nov. 5 school board election. That is a sacrifice she said she would gladly make in exchange for a seat on the board that now employs her.
A 16-year member of the Temple City Unified School District board who says she dislikes campaigning is doing it for the fifth time in the hope of working four more years at what she said is a 40-hour-a-week job that pays nothing.
They are among 182 people in the San Gabriel Valley who have declared their candidacies for 85 school board offices.
An informal survey indicates that their reasons for running for office, and the campaigns they are planning, are as varied as the candidates themselves.
J. Michael Fay said he began his teaching career in Watts during the tumultuous 1960s and negotiated for Los Angeles teachers during their 1970 strike. For eight years he worked as a teacher advocate in federally funded programs, Fay said. Now as president of the board of education in Claremont, he has been an adversary of the teacher organizations that staged a one-day walkout last May.
Fay said that when he first became a candidate four years ago he was one of four people competing for three board seats that had been vacated. This year there are seven other candidates vying for four board seats: Larry Birch, incumbent; Kenneth Clavon, chocolate distributor; Judy Cody, a parent; Ed Keith, college instructor; Susan Keith, media relations director; Lissa Peterson, college English instructor, and Jack Venderley, community college instructor.
Now a financial planner with one child in school, Fay is back in the running, "because it's a matter of stability," he said. "We have problems with finances and employee morale, so I decided to run again.
"It doesn't pay a dime, there's very little ego gratification and it consumes about eight hours every two weeks," Fay said. But, he added, "If I had to boil it down to a reason, it is in a way being able to pay back all those people who helped me when I was growing up."
Robert T. Ferrett wants "a religious education on a daily basis" for his own children, but at the same time he said he admires the school board he works for. "I'd sort of like to be like them," he said of members of the Riverside Unified School District, where he is director of research, evaluation and data processing.
Although Ferrett enrolled his only school-age child in a Catholic school in Pomona, he said his 20 years as a teacher and administrator in public schools have convinced him that he is qualified to govern the Pomona Unified School District. Other candidates are Ardis Guthrie, Agnes Moreland Jackson and Frances (Fran) Livingston, incumbents, and Linda Stevens, a homemaker.
"I'm not well-known since I work outside the community," Ferrett said. "But I feel very strongly about public education."
Because Ferrett works for another district, he will not have to give up his job if he is elected.
But Shirley Mante will. She is a secretary in El Monte City School District who wants a seat on the board that has employed her for six years. If she wins, she said, she will forfeit her job.
An administrative secretary for six years, Mante said she wants to change the existing board that she calls "divided, with a lot of dissension, and responsible for low morale."
Mante said she is not known, despite having lived in El Monte for 21 years. She is teaming with candidate David B. Reed, a production engineer "who doesn't know people in town." She acknowledged that they have an uphill battle as Anglos in predominantly Latinos El Monte.
"We're so new we don't hardly know what to do," Mante said. "I'm shocked at the amount it costs to run. It's more than I ever dreamed."
There were expenditures for ballot statements, Mante said, and the two candidates will mail flyers at 10 cents each and post signs that cost $1 each. "Mostly, we'll go door to door," she said.
One of Mante's opponents is incumbent Jim Marin, who joined the El Monte City School board two years ago to fill an unexpired term and who also is a school administrator.
Native of Ecuador
Marin, who came from Ecuador as an infant and speaks fluent Spanish, said he does not consider his Latin background an advantage, "because not all that many Hispanic people vote."
Marin is dean of students at El Rancho High School in El Rancho Unified School District in Pico Rivera and has lived in El Monte for five years.