For incumbent Bess Drust, Tuesday's Culver City Unified school board election was another one to savor.
Voters elected Drust and newcomer Linda L. Price out of a field of six candidates. Incumbent Diane Pannone chose not to run.
It the third straight victory for Drust who said she has done little to alter her winning style since her first race, right down to the same 8-year-old red-and-white campaign sign outside her headquarters.
"When you've got a good thing working, you don't want to change it," she said with a grin.
With unofficial returns from all 13 precincts, Drust led with 1,615 votes followed by Price with 1,485. G. James Quirarte came in third with 809 votes; Marcella T. Melendez received 368; Elliot Heffler 293, and Roger Aiken 192.
Drust said the vote indicated that Culver City residents wanted to see more long-range planning in the district.
"We have to begin to focus on the kind of long-range planning that will bring our district into the 21st Century," she said. "This election will give me the opportunity to work on educational programs that will help improve the salable skills of our students."
Funding a Priority
Drust and Price said that school funding remains a high priority. This year the district balanced its $18.4-million budget by cutting more than $600,000 in jobs and supplies. Fourteen teaching and classified positions were eliminated through attrition and the district cut back on books, supplies and other equipment purchases.
Price, who said the district's first priority is long-term planning, said her own will be to "work with the board and learn the ropes." Price, president of the PTA Council of Presidents, attributed her victory to her involvement in the district.
Even though the major issue was school funding, candidates Melendez and Aiken made the board's decision to put a health clinic on the Culver City High School campus part of the debate. The clinic, which will offer such services as family planning, pregnancy testing, counseling and referrals, is scheduled to open this month.
Melendez, who said that the clinic would erode parental authority, said her defeat will not deter her. "I plan to regroup and to be ready to run again two years from now," she said. "In the meantime, we plan to stay on top of things and speak out at every opportunity."
Heffler also said he planned to run again. "I live in the community and I work in the community, and I'm still concerned about the education children receive in this community," he said.
Quirarte took his defeat as a challenge. "I don't think there are any losers," he said. "The only ones who stand to lose are the children if the new board does not do enough to improve their education. I wish the new board members the best, but I'll be back next time around."