Union-Led Campaign To Recall Two Conservative OUSD Trustees Leads In Vote Count

By:Matthew Cunningham

An attempt by the teachers union and local education establishment to two recall conservative Trustees Madison Miner and Rick Ledesma from the Orange Unified School District Board of Education appears to be succeeding, although the margin between the “yes” and “no” vote totals has diminished.

OUSD includes the Orange, Villa Park, Anaheim Hills and portions of Garden Grove and Santa Ana.

The recall was winning by a wide margin of 17 points after the initial returns, which were heavily weighted toward early vote-by-mail ballots:

This post on X by the Democratic Party of Orange County shows recall campaign activists response to the initial returns:

However, by midnight, the gap had shrunk significantly to a 5-point margin as vote-center ballots – which heavily favored the “No” side – were counted:

Orange County voter turnout was 22% and there are still 201,552 ballots countywide still to be counted. Of those:
– 63,716 vote-by-mail ballots
– 41,844 are vote-by-mail ballots placed in Drop Boxes
– 87,080 are vote-by-mail ballots returned at Vote Centers

Miner and Ledesma are part of a 4-3 Board majority have taken strong stands in favor of greater parental oversight of curriculum and in support of charter schools. If the recall succeeds, the liberal establishment bloc of Trustees Kris Erickson, Ana Page and Andrea Yamasaki would have the opportunity to fill the resulting vacancies with like-minded individuals and restore board control to the teacher union/education establishment.

Although recall proponents pointed to the Board majority’s sudden dismissal of Superintendent Gunn Marie Hansen in January 2023 as the rationale for their recall, talk of a recall had already begun among union/establishment circles shortly after Miner’s election in November of 2022 displaced the old guard.

For the union-dominated public education establishment, the OUSD recall had outsized importance. For them, the Board majority were their “enemies” and the recall was necessary to prevent the parental rights movement from spreading to other districts.

In a January 2023 Zoom call Orange Unified Educators Association President Greg Goodlander said he was “collaborating with my union counterparts in other unions” and had already spoken to 700 union leaders at the [California Teachers Association] State Council and generated contributions for the recall.

Goodlander had also set meetings with teacher union activists from other districts, such as the Capistrano Unified and Brea-Olinda Unified school districts to recruit union members from those districts to help with the recall qualification campaign.

“My message is ‘don’t think this is Orange and I don’t need to worry about it, because if we fail in this, it will empower our enemies – to spread, basically,” said Goodlander.

On a Zoom call in early 2023 – in which OUSD Trustee Kris Erickson participated – Roger Urroz, the full-time executive director of the OUEA, said the CTA leadership “very worried” that the new conservative majority on the OUSD Board would succeed and endanger union-dominance of other districts.

“I’ve already been in touch with the higher up at CTA, I’ve been in constant contact with my Region 4 manager,” Urroz. “They are very concerned. They’re seeing it as Orange is the ‘pilot’ if you will. If they can succeed here in Orange, then they know they can go to other districts and do the same thing. So CTA is very concerned, very worried.”

Urroz said the powerful state teachers union was already “bringing resources and support” to the recall effort.

“We’re working on trying to get ABC money through CTA to come to OUEA and we will turn it around, if you will, and provide that to the recall group,” said Urroz.


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