ROSEMEAD — An apparent loser in the race for a seat on the Garvey School District Board of Education has been named the winner, possibly shifting the balance of power to a majority that has been critical of the system's administration.
Gilbert Barron, who apparently lost by one vote to incumbent Raul (Tony) Garcia in the Nov. 5 election, was declared the winner by a single vote in the official count announced Monday by the county registrar recorder's office.
In the unofficial count, Garcia appeared to have won reelection to a second term, but the official count, which included absentee ballots not previously tallied, tipped the scales to Barron, 517-516. Garcia said he probably will not seek a recount, but added that he will not decide until Monday, the deadline for requesting one.
Three of the five board seats were at stake in the district, which serves 7,100 students in kindergarten through eighth grade in parts of Rosemead, Monterey Park and San Gabriel.
Incumbents Voted Out
Garcia and two other incumbents, board President John Nunez and Carl Van Winkle, were defeated in a bitter race in which Nunez was accused by fellow board member Robert Miranda of misusing his district-issued credit card.
Replacing them are Barron, who headed a slate of three candidates called the Team of Excellence; one of his running mates, Virginia Gutierrez, and Judy Chu, an independent candidate who is the board's first Asian-American member.
The remaining two members are Miranda, who supported the Team of Excellence slate, and Jim Smith.
Together with Barron and Gutierrez, Miranda--an outspoken critic of the district administration who frequently has been at odds with his colleagues and often constituted a minority of one on key issues--appears to have forged a new majority on the board.
Barron and Gutierrez also have charged that the board and the administration have not been responsive to parents and have not encouraged them to participate in school affairs.
All three stressed their independence. But, Miranda said, "there are a lot of areas where we have united concerns. There will be areas where we disagree, (but) I don't think we are going to have a board that is all over the place."
Garcia and others, however, contended that the three are likely to vote as a block, at least initially.
"Mr. Miranda really worked hard for their candidacy and in spite of how independent they say they are, its's really going to be hard to say no," Garcia said. "It's like godfather time. When he comes calling, what are you going to say?"
Bloc Not Certain
Some district officials said that it is not certain that Miranda can translate his close ties to Barron and Gutierrez into a cohesive voting bloc.
"I don't know Virginia," said Smith, a two-year incumbent who is a customer service supervisor for the Southern California Edison Co. "If she's an individualist, it could go any direction."
And some officials said that it may only be a matter of time before Miranda and Barron--longtime political allies who are known for their strong wills and strong personalities--find themselves at odds.
"Mr. Barron is not going to be Mr. Miranda's lackey," Garcia said.
Stormy Last Session
Meanwhile, the campaign bitterness carried over last week to the final meeting of the present board. In a stormy session in which Nunez gaveled down Miranda when he tried to speak, the outgoing board censured Miranda for failing to provide adequate documentation of $3,037.58 in travel and conference-related expenses charged to the district.
The censure resolution, which was one of the board's last official acts, accused Miranda of "a breach of his fiduciary responsibility for district funds over which he has control."
The expense account controversy had been brewing since last spring when Miranda charged that Nunez had spent about $300 of district money to entertain people in the community without prior board approval. A subcommittee set up to review the expenses of all board members eventually determined that Nunez's expenditures were proper, but found that Miranda's expense accounting was incomplete.
Even though the censure has no practical effect, Miranda said he plans to ask the county superintendent of schools to nullify it.
'Hit List' Charged
Fueling the post-election fires was the allegation made by Garcia and Nunez in interviews that Miranda had a "hit list" of administrators he has targeted for removal, a charge denied by Miranda.
Garcia said that Miranda called him the day after the election, when it appeared that Garcia had been reelected, and told him that he wanted to oust Supt. Andrew J. Viscovich and several principals.
Miranda denied that he talked to Garcia the day after the election and said he has no plans to seek the removal of any school official.
He said that he has had occasional differences with Viscovich and one principal, whom he would not name.