Two board members of Charter Oak Unified School District were unseated Tuesday in a recall election that had its origins in a controversial school reorganization last year, but became focused on the way the members handled the changes.
Board President Carol Cherry was recalled by a 54% margin, with 1,090 voting to oust her and 925 voting to retain her. Board member Ann Hall was recalled by a 56.6% margin, with 1,145 voting to oust her and 877 voting to retain her.
Hall will be replaced by Robert Hoenig, 51, who topped three candidates with 663 votes, or 48%. Cherry's only opponent was Alhambra Police Chief Joseph T. Molloy, 46, who was automatically elected. They will take office at the next board meeting Tuesday.
Both Hall and Cherry blamed their losses on what they called "unfair and untrue" allegations by recall proponents who, they said, targeted them for supporting the widely criticized reorganization plan that had been unanimously approved by the school board and administration.
But their critics said the reorganization ceased to be an issue when it was put into effect last September. They wanted the two women removed because of what they called "uncommunicative and insensitive attitudes" during heated board meetings during the dispute. The board closed two intermediate schools and turned Royal Oak High School into an intermediate school, making Charter Oak the district's only high school.
The petition for the recall gathered about 4,000 voter signatures. Tuesday's election drew about 2,000 voters, or 12% of those registered in the district. The district covers parts of Covina, Glendora and San Dimas, and has 5,400 students. Enrollment has declined steadily from a 1971 peak of 9,500 students.
Hall and Cherry said most of their opposition came from parents who wanted Royal Oak chosen as the district's high school. Both said they walked the district to explain their positions before Tuesday's election.
"I would vote the same way again," said Cherry, who has been on the board 8 1/2 years. "I have done nothing wrong, consciously."
Hall, who has been on the board six years, said the election's outcome surprised her. "The campaign in its final stages became scurrilous. We were accused of being fiscally irresponsible on an issue that the entire board favored. I think we did a terrific job under horrendous pressure and Carol and I can be proud of ourselves.'
Hoenig, a print shop owner in Covina and part-time printing teacher, said he had opposed the recall, did not campaign for office and was a candidate only because he felt qualified to serve on the board.
His election, Hoenig said, "was a shock. I felt sorry about the recall and I didn't get into it at all." He was an unsuccessful candidate in the regular board election last November.
Molloy, who lives in Glendora, said he campaigned for the recall, but not for himself. "I walked the precincts to get out the vote, and just told people about my professional background and that I'm willing to listen and be flexible," Molloy said.
Each of the men has four children who have been educated in the district.
Other candidates for Hall's seat were Julius R. Marini, a medical doctor, who received 427 votes, or 31%, and Kathleen M. Rivet, listed on the ballot as a professional parent, who received 274 votes, or 20%.