If voters in the Compton Unified School District are confused, it is no wonder.
They have 30 candidates to sort out in Tuesday's election to fill five school board seats.
Four candidates are running for a two-year seat. The remaining 26 are competing for four board seats that carry four-year terms.
Then there is the task of sorting out candidates who are listed on conflicting slates being mailed to voters.
Gregornio (Greg) Sanchez, for instance, is on slates with incumbent Lynn Dymally and Kalem Aquil, who is running against Dymally. Political loyalty is not the glue that binds these mailers, explains Sanchez, 57, a quality control manager.
"The object is to get my name known. The more slates I can get on, I'm better off," he said.
The slate pieces flooding mailboxes this week are put together by political consultants. Sanchez says he paid $1,750 to be included on the two slates put together by Compton political consultant Basil Kimbrew.
To add to the confusion, the man that candidates love to criticize, school Supt. Ted D. Kimbrough, is leaving in January to become superintendent of schools in Chicago.
During his seven years in Compton, Kimbrough has been supported by the majority of the seven school board members, which has made him the target of parent and community frustration over poor test scores and rundown school facilities.
Bitterness over the lack of student progress in the schools has become so strong that at a candidates' forum last week, Aquil said he wanted a group of parents to "arrest" the superintendent for mismanaging the district. Another candidate, Acquanetta Harrison Warren, said the community has "lost confidence in our school district."
Both Aquil, a 41-year-old electronics technician, and Warren, a 33-year-old product manager for First Interstate Bank, are running for the seat held by Dymally, daughter of Rep. Mervyn Dymally (D-Compton). The other candidate, Omar Bradley, is making his second try this year at elective office. A Lynwood High School teacher, Bradley, 30, was an unsuccessful City Council candidate.
The seat held by Dymally carries a two-year term. She was appointed in July to fill the unexpired term of Bernice Woods, who was elected to the City Council. Some candidates and parents waged an unsuccessful battle to stop Dymally's appointment, charging that she was appointed because of her father's position.
Trustee Dymally, who previously served one term on the board, holds a degree from Whittier College School of Law, but is not a practicing attorney. She says she runs her own management and consulting business.
The four remaining open seats are also held by incumbents seeking reelection. Manuel Correa, 65, a retired Compton Police Department commander, is seeking a seventh term. Kelvin Filer and Sam Littleton are seeking third terms. Filer, 33, an attorney, says this would be his last term. Littleton is a medical social worker at Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center.
John Steward, a 47-year-old deputy probation officer for Los Angeles County, also is seeking a third term. An outspoken critic of Kimbrough's leadership, Steward is the only incumbent to receive the backing of the Compton teachers union.
Among the challengers vying for four-year terms are Earnest J. Spears, 47, executive director of the Compton Chamber of Commerce, and Roy E. Little, 48, a vocational rehabilitation counselor who also is vice chairman of the Carson Human Relations Commission. Little is the brother of actor Cleavon Little.
The Compton school district takes in part of Carson, as well as the entire city of Compton and various county areas.
Margaret Moore, 58, a community liaison with the school district, is making her second bid for a board seat. Also running is Madelina D. Dewberry, a former teacher who is manager of human resources at American Express in Culver City; Verda M. Cheathem, a teacher; Hyacinth Dandridge, who taught school in Los Angeles and is a community activist in Compton; Nancy L. Johnson, a retired teacher, and Patricia Moore, a business license inspector for the city. She is not related to the city councilwoman of the same name.
Other candidates are Sadie R. Benham, a child-care coordinator; Muhammad Abdullah, a student at Cal State Long Beach; Rev. Gary Leon Daniels, who also is a teacher; Deborah M. Gayles, a library assistant; Ken Perkins, who is self-employed; Saul E. Lankster, a former school board member who operates a florist shop; Chester L. Hammond Sr., a youth services counselor; Dhanifu S. Karim, student and counselor; Malcum Mumford, a sheet-metal worker; Otha Ray Scott, an educator; Mae Thomas, a community parent facilitator; Walter E. White Jr., a retired property manager, and Paula L. Howard, a physical education teacher in the Lynwood schools and sister-in-law of candidate Bradley.