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Westminster Petitioners Claim Success : Group Seeking Ouster of School Trustee Says 1,000 Signed

December 07, 1985|BILL BILLITER | Times Staff Writer

Critics of a recently appointed board member in the Westminister School District said Friday that they have collected twice the amount of signatures needed for a special election to oust the appointee.

Nancy Blumenthal, chairman of the group leading the ouster action, Citizens to Protect the Right to Vote, said that more than 1,000 voter signatures were collected. She noted that 484 were needed.

If the signatures are verified, the special election will be held in the early months of 1986. Moreover, if the signatures are verified, the appointment becomes void.

At issue is a Nov. 6 appointment of Curtis Jones to the five-member school board to replace Skip Morgan, who moved to Northern California. Morgan's term was to end in two years.

'Slap in Face' to Voters

Jones, an incumbent board member, had lost a bid for reelection to another four-year term on the day before--in the regular Nov. 5 school board election. With three seats to be filled and nine candidates, Jones came in fourth.

Blumenthal said: "For the lame-duck school board to turn around the very next day and reappoint him (Jones) to serve another two years on the board is a slap in the face to the voters of Westminster. We felt something had to be done."

But Randy Fruechting, vice president of the school board, said Friday that the board simply did what it had announced it would do before the Nov. 5 election: fill the vacancy with the person who came in fourth in the voting.

Fruechting noted that Morgan's resignation, which was effective Oct. 31, came too late for the vacancy to be included on the ballot. "We didn't want the district to have the expense of a special election, and so back in September, when Skip announced he was having to leave, we said we'd fill the position by appointing the person who came in fourth," Fruechting said.

Fruechting added that the Westminster Teachers Assn., the teachers' union, is the driving force behind the move for a special election. "The association won two seats in the Nov. 5 election, and they want this third seat for control of the board," he said. He added that he views union domination of a school board as "a conflict of interest."

'People Were Furious'

Citizens to Protect the Right to Vote, however, claims that the central issue isn't the teachers' association but appointment of a defeated candidate.

Lance Smith, an organizer of the petition drive, said: "People were anxious to sign. The people I talked to were furious about the Jones appointment."

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