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No teachers’ union endorsements in MDUSD trustee race

By Theresa Harrington
Wednesday, September 8th, 2010 at 8:12 pm in Education, Election, Mt. Diablo school district, Theresa Harrington.

By Theresa Harrington

In an unexpected move, the Mt. Diablo Education Association teachers’ union has decided not to endorse any candidate in the November election, which includes seven candidates vying for three open seats.

The candidates are: incumbent Linda Mayo, attorney Jeffrey Adams, retired CFO Roy Larkin, retired teacher Lynne Dennler, county education trainer Cheryl Hansen, technology executive Brian Lawrence and retired real estate appraiser Jan Treizise (who has announced she will not actively campaign for the seat).

Incumbents Dick Allen and Paul Strange have decided not to seek re-election.

Teachers’ union representatives interviewed the candiates last month. Following delilberations, union President Michael Langley sent me the following statement:

“After reviewing the written questionnaires of all seven school board candidates, and conducting interviews on Monday night, 30 August, the interview panel recommended that the Executive Board not bring to the Representative Assembly an endorsement of any candidate.
Each candidate had some positive attributes. There was a consensus on the panel that no single candidate had a track record in this unusual fiscal environment that indicated a firm commitment to addressing the needs of our membership in guiding the district to a path of improved educational opportunities for our students.
We hope to continue to work with all school board members in returning the educational opportunities so well deserved by this community. We will renew our focus on statewide issues that will facilitate a return to the highest quality educational experience.”

This marks a huge shift from the 2008 board election, when the union heavily backed trustee Gary Eberhart and newcomer Sherry Whitmarsh, who ran as a slate against then-board President April Treece and Adams (who were running independent of each other). Eberhart and Whitmarsh won.

Two years ago, Mayo was viewed as part of the board majority with Treece and Allen. The union wanted to overturn that majority in part to oust then-Superintendent Gary McHenry and to usher in new leadership, expecting to end contentious contract negotiations.

But, as the state budget worsened, the new board did not approve the teachers’ union contract, as educators hoped they would. Now, the district is pushing for furlough days and reduced benefits at the negotiating table to balance its budget.

Mark York, executive director of the association, said the union expects to sunshine its contract proposal Sept. 14.

How do you think the union’s decision not to endorse any candidates will affect the election?

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