Local Elections

Woo, Ryan, Hansen, Cochrane win Sacramento school board races

By Loretta Kalb

lkalb@sacbee.com

November 04, 2014 08:38 PM

The Sacramento City Teachers Association fell short Tuesday night in its effort to remake the Sacramento City Unified School District board.

With all precincts reporting, Area 6 incumbent Darrel Woo won big over union-backed challenger Maria Haro-Sullivan with 67 percent of the vote in a race to represent the Pocket, Greenhaven and South Land Park.

In Area 7, representing Oak Park, Hollywood Park and south Sacramento neighborhoods, parent Jessie Ryan defeated four other candidates on the ballot with 42 percent of the vote. She received $30,000 in last-minute support from the California Charter Schools Association. Former SCTA president Linda Tuttle, who received the union’s support, placed second with 22 percent.

Jay Hansen had 47 percent of the votes compared to 37 percent for union-backed challenger Anna Molander and 15 percent for real estate agent Kate Woolley in results posted early Wednesday.

Hansen, alluding to the heavy opposition from the teachers association, said that if he wins, he is “going to reach out to the people who were not with me and looks forward to working with them. Everyone has to work together to be successful for our students and our community, and I hope everyone will do that.”

Only one of SCTA’s candidates, teacher Ellen Cochrane, prevailed, receiving 56 percent compared with incumbent Jeff Cuneo’s 43 percent in Area 2, representing midtown, East Sacramento and Tahoe Park.

About 20 people showed up at Sacramento City Teachers Association headquarters to watch the election results. The teachers association tried to oust three incumbents, an effort spawned both by the recession and the association’s frustration with former Superintendent Jonathan Raymond, and the group blamed board incumbents for failing to block some of his initiatives.

Teachers fought Raymond on seniority protections, contract negotiations and test-based teacher evaluations. More recently, well after Raymond’s departure, the union criticized district officials this fall for eliminating a popular health insurance option used by a large share of teachers and retirees. The district did so without negotiations and no board vote, citing millions of dollars in savings.

SCTA leadership described the move as “the illegal gutting of the health care for Sacramento’s teachers.”

“Let’s be clear about where the blame lies for the damage: the incumbents,” the union told members in one pre-election campaign update. “It is time to clean house.”

The Area 1 race between Molander, Hansen and Woolley was the most costly and hotly contested among the four board seats. It unfolded in one of the district’s most politically active areas, spanning Curtis Park, Land Park, South Land Park and most of downtown Sacramento.

Though SCTA targeted trustees Woo and Cuneo, the group poured most of its efforts and money into ousting Hansen. In the final 10 days, the teachers union sent a mailer to voters depicting Hansen as shotgun-toting, cigar-chomping board member who helped close seven elementary campuses last year.

Hansen, chief strategy officer for the California Medical Association, said the photo was taken about six years ago at a skeet-shooting fundraiser for mesothelioma cancer research. He said the mailer unfairly portrayed him as a “racist, Minuteman, militia person” and triggered an increased flow of funds into his campaign.

The teachers association ultimately contributed more than $50,000 in total spending, including more than $38,000 to Molander. That spending was countered by the California Charter Schools Association, which as of Friday had spent $31,000 in support of Hansen.

Incumbents, in turn, said they were unfairly blamed for the union’s complaints.

Call The Bee’s Loretta Kalb, (916) 321-1073. Follow her on Twitter @LorettaSacBee. Staff writer Richard Chang contributed to this story.