Teachers’ slate? Union backs 3 candidates

A group of three candidates for school board not only has the teachers’ union’s endorsement, but its money and campaign expertise, as well.

The Chico Unified Teachers Association’s executive board, taking the suggestion of a committee of teachers that had interviewed all candidates willing to submit to questioning, voted Sept. 12 to endorse Scott Huber, David Haynes and Eileen Robinson. Three seats are open, and two incumbents are running for re-election. There are nine candidates.

CUTA President George Young said it’s not usual for CUTA to form a political-action committee, but this election “they’re getting a little more organized.” He said CUTAPAC, which is headed by teacher Mary Flynn, didn’t seek out candidates to run beforehand and he wouldn’t necessarily call it a slate. “All I know is we’re hoping that people pick those three names when they vote.

“They all wanted the same thing,” Young said. “They all want a better relationship. They all want what’s best for kids.”

The arrangement means that not only will the three candidates have like-minded teachers campaigning on their behalf, but they will also share in the services of a California Teachers Association campaign consultant, Don Hillman. The candidates might end up pooling their money with the PAC’s and buying ads together. In return, Young said, the three “don’t have to do anything,” but he expects they will choose to support each other.

“We didn’t know it ahead of time,” said Robinson, one of the three who agreed to go along with the approach. “I didn’t have any problem with the other [two] candidates, and they apparently didn’t have any problem with me.”

Dave Donnan, who garnered the CUTA’s endorsement the last time he ran, in 2000, was “a little shocked” to be left out. “One of the questions in the interview was how would you feel about being in with a group of educators on a slate.” He said that in the last election, which he lost, the CUTA paid for only a few bumper stickers and buttons touting its two picks. Donnan said that while he would rather run on his own anyway, he’s at a “definite disadvantage” from a campaign funding standpoint due to the PAC’s involvement.

"We’ll spend whatever we can to get our word out," Young said. "Obviously, for us getting the incumbents out [of office] is important. [But] we’re not looking for a rubber stamp."