SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO – Capistrano Unified’s school board will retain its majority voting bloc for the next two years, as three of the four candidates backed by the board’s dominant parent faction sailed to victory in unofficial election tallies.
Incumbents John Alpay and Gary Prithard, plus candidate Amy Hanacek – all backed by the influential Capistrano Unified Children First coalition – clinched margins of victory of 6 percentage points, 18 points and 35 points, respectively, according to unofficial results with all precincts reporting.
“I congratulate the teachers and parents for voting for stability in Capistrano Unified – they voted for public education over the alternatives and voted to keep the incumbents in office,” Children First volunteer Chris Korpi said. “I hope they all pull together now and do what’s right.”
The opposing parent coalition, Hold CUSD Accountable, sent one of its three candidates to office – Jim Reardon – who beat Children First-backed Carol McCormick by 25 percentage points.
“Jim Reardon ran a solid campaign and had a message that resonated with voters,” Wayne Tate of Hold CUSD Accountable said Tuesday. “One would hope that after everything that’s happened, that even if the incumbents get re-elected, they realize they have to do things differently.”
The unofficial election returns indicate the board will maintain a probable 5-2 split, with Reardon and incumbent Ellen Addonizio in the minority.
“It's not a bad thing to have differences of opinions on issues,” said Mission Viejo parent Fran Sdao, president of Children First, “as long as the discussion is healthy and the focus remains on what's best for kids.”
Tuesday’s election was the extension of a years-long political battle between two warring parent factions, mainly over how to move the school district forward and keep it fiscally solvent amid unprecedented funding challenges.
The Capistrano Unified Children First group, aligned closely with the district’s teachers union, endorsed incumbents Alpay and Pritchard, plus Hanacek and McCormick.
The Hold CUSD Accountable group, successor to the conservative, anti-union Committee to Reform CUSD, backed a slate of three non-incumbent challengers – Reardon, Steve Lang and William Perkins.
Capistrano Unified is Orange County’s second-largest school district, with about 53,000 students.
Spending on this year’s Capistrano school board race did not top 2010’s record-setting tallies, but had hit the $247,000 mark as of Oct. 29.
The lion’s share – about 41 cents of every dollar – was spent by the district’s teachers union, and an additional 16 cents of every dollar were spent by its ally, Children First.
The Hold CUSD Accountable group reported no spending, although its predecessor, the Reform Committee, reported spending about 1 cent of every dollar in the race.
The Hold CUSD Accountable candidates themselves reported spending about 18 cents of every dollar in the race, while the Children First candidates reported spending 13 cents of every dollar.
Unofficial election results were:
AREA 1 (portions of Dana Point, San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente)
Amy Hanacek (Children First): 68%
Karin Schnell (no slate): 32%
AREA 2 (all of Coto de Caza, Las Flores and Ladera Ranch, plus a portion of San Juan Capistrano)
Carol McCormick (Children First): 24%
Jim Reardon (Hold CUSD Accountable): 49%
Michele Taylor-Bible (no slate): 7%
Don Franklin Richardson (no slate): 20%
AREA 3 (most of San Clemente)
John Alpay (Children First): 48%
Steve Lang (Hold CUSD Accountable): 42%
Yolanda McNamara (no slate): 9%
AREA 5 (all of Aliso Viejo and a portion of Laguna Niguel)
Gary Pritchard (Children First): 59%
William Perkins (Hold CUSD Accountable): 41%
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