By Brian Villalba
Ex-president of East Los Angeles College, Ernest H. Moreno was elected to the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees Tuesday with 67 percent of the vote.
Assemblyman Mike Eng was also elected Tuesday to the board, and two candidates for the final seat are headed for a runoff election on May 21.
The runoff was triggered by a close race between Montebello Unified School District board member David Vela and incumbent board member Nancy Pearlman, in which neither won a majority vote.Vela received the most votes, with 35 percent of the vote, while Pearlman received 29 percent.
Pearlman is the oversight committee chair of the A/AA and Measure J bond program, which is responsible for the construction across the district. The bond program is worth more than $2.4 billion.
The beleaguered bond program was a common target of candidates as an example of where their leadership is needed.
Moreno lists the bond program completion as the first of his primary objectives. He said his focus is budget management.
Eng said “reform, oversight and transparency of the bond program,” are a primary objective.
The American Federation of Teachers Political Director, John McDowell held a faculty meeting at ELAC before the election to introduce and endorse both Eng and Vela.
McDowell said that AFT endorsed Pearlman the last time she ran, and that the union was not satisfied with Pearlman’s oversight of the Bond program.
Pearlman is the chairperson of the committee that is charged with the oversight of the beleaguered bond program. McDowell said “She didn’t ask enough questions.”
Of Pearlman’s campaign priorities, the only mention of construction is to continue green building programs and make campuses ecological.
Retired Pierce College and Mission College President Tom Oliver almost unseated Pearlman with 27 percent of the vote.
Oliver has held a number of administrative positions at LA Mission, Pierce and Valley College.
Tuesday’s election had a low turnout. Just over 14 percent of the registered voters turned out to cast ballots.
The union-endorsed candidates all fared better than the candidates that did not have union support.
The two candidates the AFT endorsed, Eng and Vela, both won.
Moreno had the support of trade unions, but the AFT did not endorse anyone on the ballot for seat 4.
The Los Angeles Times endorsed Moreno’s opponent Jozef Essavi, however the endorsement acknowledged he had a lack of experience and understanding of the LACCD.
Moreno is in favor of a college- based budget model over the current district-based model. “We need to learn the lessons of the ’80s, when the district-based budget model didn’t work.”
At the AFT meeting, Eng distanced himself from the title of politician when he said “I hated politicians. I didn’t get into politics until I was 50.” Eng is 66 now. He is the husband of Congresswoman Judy Chu, who was a professor at ELAC for 13 years.
Eng was an adjunct at Los Angeles Trade Tech College. Chu endorsed Eng, along with the Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
Eng has a background in politics. He has a master’s of public policy from Pepperdine University, and has worked as a legislative aide to Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina.