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Orange County

Westminster Recall Vote Signatures Insufficient

September 17, 2004|Joel Rubin | Times Staff Writer

The drive to recall two controversial Westminster School District trustees suffered a serious setback Thursday when Orange County officials announced that backers failed to submit enough voter signatures to put the recall to a vote.

For months, parents and teachers infuriated by the two trustees' stance on a state anti-discrimination law had canvassed the community in search of the required 7,233 signatures. Last week, organizers said they had submitted to the registrar of voters more than 8,500 signatures.

The campaign was disqualified, however, after officials counted fewer than 6,800 signatures submitted against Trustees Judy Ahrens and Blossie Marquez, a spokesman for the registrar said. The agency had not gotten to the next step, validating the signatures.

Ahrens, Marquez and a third trustee, Helena Rutkowski, had rejected the wording of a state anti-discrimination rule protecting transsexuals and others who do not conform to traditional gender roles. Citing their Christian beliefs, the three called the rule immoral.

Rutkowski, whose term is expiring but who is seeking reelection, was not a recall target.

The three trustees, who constitute a majority of the five-member board, eventually rewrote the rule with compromise wording to appease the state and avoid millions of dollars in sanctions.

"We serve a good God," Marquez said after hearing the announcement. "We knew we were doing the right thing and God honors that."

Louise MacIntyre, a parent who headed the recall effort, said such words only reaffirmed her distrust of the majority. She said it was unclear why too few signatures had been submitted and said there were no plans to mount another campaign.

The group of parents and teachers, she said, would turn their energy toward defeating Rutkowski.

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