Although candidates in Tuesday's Inglewood school board runoff have contrasting positions on issues, the greatest difference has been in their style of campaigning.
Incumbents W. R. (Tony) Draper and William Dorn, often bitter opponents in their one term on the board, have spent little time and even less money on their reelection bids.
Meanwhile, their challengers, Lois Hill Hale and Zyra McCloud, are pouring money, volunteers and flyers into their campaigns.
"I really don't think a lot of people are going to get excited about a school board race," said Draper, who received just over one-third of the vote in the April 7 primary. "I don't think sending out a bunch of mailers is going to make a lot of difference."
Draper has spent $1,520 on his campaign for the 4th Seat, depending almost exclusively on appearances at community forums. His opponent, Hill Hale, spent $23,835 through May 30, most of it on mailers to voters.
Hill Hale, the chief deputy for state Sen. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles), said she raised the money "to provide enough information to the constituents so they'll know who I am, what my background is and what I will do if I'm elected."
McCloud, president of the Inglewood PTA Councils, has spent more than $8,000 in her quest to oust Dorn from Seat 5. She has used an army of volunteers to pass out flyers.
Dorn, who more than doubled McCloud's vote in the primary, has done little campaigning. He reported raising only $1,000, that a donation from himself. And he spent it not on his own campaign, but on the failed campaign to raise the Inglewood mayor's salary.
Dorn has appeared at few candidates forums and refuses to speak to the press.
The districtwide election is expected to draw considerably fewer voters than the 7,693 who turned out in April, according to the city clerk's office.
But the election could decide the control of the board of the 15,000-student district for the next two years. Dorn, Ernest Shaw and Caroline Coleman form a tenuous three-vote majority on most major issues before the five-member board, with Draper and Rosemary Benjamin usually in opposition.
Dorn, Shaw and Coleman are each leaders in the Inglewood Democratic Club, which is headed by Inglewood Mayor Edward T. Vincent. Draper is an opponent of the mayor, who trounced him in November's mayoral election by a 5-1 margin.
Dorn's faction in March voted to approve a controversial 10% pay raise for the district's teachers, who had twice staged one-day walkouts to demand the increase.
Dorn helped engineer the raise's passage, but Draper opposed the measure, arguing that the raise would be fiscally disastrous for the district. Each now is being criticized by his opponent for his stand on the issue.
Draper and Dorn each finished first for his respective seat in April's primary, but failed to get the majority vote needed to avoid a runoff.
Draper, 43, a manager at Hughes Aircraft Co., outpolled Hill Hale by almost 500 ballots, getting 35.8% of the vote to Hill Hale's 28.7%. Hill Hale edged third-place finisher Loystene Irvin by 187 votes.
A Larger Edge
Dorn amassed an even larger edge over McCloud--almost 2,000 votes. Dorn got 43.9% of the vote to McCloud's 16.3%, with four other candidates splitting the rest.
Hill Hale, 52, has accused Draper of "fostering negativism and dissension on the board." Promising to be a "unifying force," she has criticized Draper for publicly attacking the other board members and for opposing the teachers' raise.
"He was . . . furious that the teachers will be getting just compensation for their work," said Hill Hale, who taught elementary school for seven years in Los Angeles. The raises were necessary for the district to attract and keep good teachers, she said.
Hill Hale said that, if elected, she will concentrate on eliminating drugs, gangs and crime.
"There are many innovative programs that the board can adopt to help the children, instead of the personal agendas and vendettas that now split the board," Hill Hale said.
She said she would push, for instance, for a high school performing arts program in drama, dance, art and debating "to motivate the children so that the talented ones won't leave the district after elementary school."
The program could be implemented without raising extra money by "better management" of available district funds, she said.
Draper says the issue in the campaign is fiscal responsibility, and that Hill Hale's proposals would cost too much.
$1-Million Price Tag
"The programs she is proposing are nothing but political rhetoric," Draper said. "To start a performing arts school would require at least $1 million, and I think it's kind of ridiculous for her to say we can find that kind of money."
Draper said he opposed the teachers' pay raise because it would lead to a $2-million budget deficit. He said his prediction is now coming to pass.