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Fowler Eager to Begin Job After School Board Victory

April 22, 1993|RICHARD WINTON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

PASADENA — In a hard-fought runoff election, former Sierra Madre mayor Lisa Fowler beat incumbent Wilbert Smith for a seat on the Pasadena Board of Education.

Fowler, a city budget analyst for Pasadena, garnered 58.8% of the 10,772 votes cast; Smith received 41.2%. About 10.4% of the electorate turned out.

"I'm thrilled and honored people are putting their trust in me," Fowler said. "I'm ready to go to work." She credited her victory to hard-working campaigners, her teaching experience in Pasadena schools, and her endorsements by teacher's unions and IMPACTO, a Pasadena Latino political organization.

Fowler, 42, taught music for 13 years in the district's schools and served two terms on the Sierra Madre City Council, including one term as mayor.

Smith, 42, elected to the board in 1989, is a former vice president of Bank of America who left last year to start a nonprofit organization for school dropouts. He and Fowler qualified for the runoff as the top two vote-getters in the March 9 primary. Fowler received 46.2% of the vote in that election, compared with Smith's 34.9%.

After the primary they fought bitterly, accusing each other of not being committed to the Pasadena school system, which educates 22,000 students from Pasadena, Altadena and Sierra Madre.

Smith distributed flyers saying Fowler was active in an unsuccessful attempt by Sierra Madre residents three years ago to secede from the Pasadena district and join the Arcadia Unified School District. Fowler denied the charge.

Fowler made an issue of Smith's support for a 1994 state ballot initiative to establish a voucher system that would give parents money toward private education and his ideas of running the schools like a business. Smith said his support of the voucher system should not be an issue in the local race because the voucher measure will be decided by voters statewide.

"People looked deeper than the flyers," Fowler said. "This is an educated electorate."

Despite the campaign, Fowler said, she wants Smith's supporters to know she will be representing their interests too.

"I am interested in representing the entire community," she said, noting that she received a lot of support from residents outside her native Sierra Madre.

Fowler will assume office May 3. In the meantime, she said, she will meet with Supt. Vera Vignes and other administrators to discuss a restructuring of the schools that is planned for the 1993-94 school year.

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