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Voters Give School Incumbents Passing Grades

November 05, 1987|BOB WILLIAMS | Times Staff Writer

All school board incumbents in six South Bay contests were returned to office in Tuesday's elections, and incumbents in five other school districts gained another term without opposition.

In the Palos Verdes Peninsula race, Trustee Jack Bagdasar cast his controversial election-eve vote to close Miraleste High School, then waited--determined, as he said, "to let the chips fall where they may"--when the public voted on his bid for a second term.

No problem. He received more votes than any of the other six candidates--3,893, or 25.4%.

Banker Joseph P. Sanford, who campaigned in favor of closing Miraleste, won the second open seat on the board with 3,312 votes, 21.6%.

He will take his seat at a board meeting Dec. 7, replacing six-year Trustee Martin C. Dodell, who did not run for reelection.

The Miraleste decision, reached by the board under intense pressure from factions concerned about preserving their neighborhood school, apparently dampened election turnout--possibly because some voters felt the emotional matter had been settled and no longer required priority attention.

Only an estimated 19% of 40,886 registered voters turned out for the election, giving six candidates on the ballot a total of 15,324 votes.

By contrast, 31% of the four-city district's voters cast ballots in a money matter that came up at a special election last March--a parcel tax proposal that would have levied a $100 annual fee on individual parcels of land to help finance the public schools. It failed.

Nearly 22% of the Peninsula's voters participated in the last school board election in November, 1985.

Barbara (Mimi) Horowitz, a longtime community and school volunteer worker, received the third-highest number of votes, 2,952 (19.3%) in the Peninsula contest, followed by retired physicist Brigitte Schuegraf, 2,513 (16.4%), mortgage banker Steven T. Kuykendall, 2,223 (14.5%) and USC student Eric Engstrom, 431 (2.8%).

Write-in candidate JoAnne Schoetzow received about 30 votes, according to a preliminary count of write-in ballots at the county registrar-recorder's office on Wednesday.

Winners Bagdasar, of Rancho Palos Verdes, and Sanford, of Palos Verdes Estates, offered post-election themes of reconciliation and unity after the divisive battles over school closures. They said the board's decision to close Miraleste was an important step in putting the 9,800-student district back on the track to financial stability and improved programs for all of the Peninsula's children.

Unofficial Results

Here are the final but unofficial results in other school board elections:

In the El Camino College race, six-year incumbent Pat Scott easily won another four-year term despite efforts by challenger Steven Klein to gain name recognition through a districtwide poster campaign.

Scott, who represents Area 1 (territory covered by the Inglewood Unified School District), received 8,663 votes, or 58.6%, while Klein, a political activist and former student body president at El Camino, got 2,664, or 18%.

The third candidate for the Area 1 seat, Inglewood community activist Mildred McNair, said during the campaign that she had abandoned her candidacy so she could help defeat Klein's effort to unseat Scott. She got more votes than Klein--3,467, or 23.4%--in her third bid for a seat on the college board.

Two other El Camino incumbents, Delmer L. Fox in Area 2 (Centinela Valley Union High School District) and Gerald M. Hilby in Area 3 (South Bay Union High School District), were reelected without opposition.

In the El Segundo Unified School District, incumbent Alan D. Leitch, an optometrist, and newcomer Andrew M. Wallet, a private attorney, won the two available board posts. Leitch, 42, who was first elected last year to fill an unexpired term, got 1,161 votes, or 28% of 4,151 cast for five candidates.

Wallet, who said the board should take a more active role in the day-to-day operations of the schools, received 1,024 votes (24.7%). The campaign otherwise dwelt on various ideas for raising more money for the schools, such as selling or leasing a downtown parking lot owned by the district.

Wallet will replace Trustee Richard D. Work, who did not seek reelection after eight years on the board. The other candidates and their votes were Patricia Pjerrou-Paynter, 931 (22.4%), Dennis Martin, 525 (12.6%), and George L. Ray, 512 (12.3%).

For Martin, a county librarian in Hawthorne, Tuesday's outcome was a familiar experience. He has run five times for a board seat since 1981--every two years plus the 1986 special election.

In the Manhattan Beach City School District, incumbent Kathy Campbell will go back to the board for a second four-year term, joined by newcomer Barbara J. Dunsmoor, a housewife and community worker.

Campbell, also a housewife, won 1,744 votes or 43.8% of 3,985 cast for three candidates, while Dunsmoor came in with 1,372 (34.4%). The third candidate, businesswoman Mary A. Rogers, received 869 (21.8%).

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