Three days after she was elected president of the Fresno Teachers Association, Mai Summer Vue is being asked to step down.
Attorneys for Eva Ruiz, who lost Tuesday's runoff election for the union's top office, asked Vue to step down because she allegedly lied and defamed Ruiz on campaign fliers.
Ruiz, a kindergarten teacher at Sunset Elementary, is challenging the election results and will request next week that the FTA board investigate whether Vue violated election bylaws.
Ruiz also may pursue a lawsuit against Vue to seek damages for defamation and libel, said Laura Guzman Magill, the Fresno attorney representing Ruiz.
Vue, a fourth-grade teacher at John Muir Elementary, said she has no intention of resigning: "If they feel they need to drag me into court and challenge it, I have nothing to hide."
At issue are statements in Vue's campaign fliers that Ruiz allege are inaccurate and disparaging. One flier says Ruiz "walked away with $10,000" after an FTA lawsuit.
The message is "really, really misleading," said Guzman Magill, who answered questions on Ruiz's behalf. "The implication is that Eva took that money for her personal benefit, which could not be further from the truth."
The FTA was sued a few years ago after board members terminated several contracts for services. The contractors sued in small-claims court and won several thousand dollars. Ruiz was a member of the executive board at the time; board members did not get money in the lawsuit.
Vue said her fliers state only that Ruiz was connected to the FTA lawsuit.
Guzman Magill said Vue also made false statements by claiming she was endorsed by the FTA and the California Teachers Association. In fact, the CTA did not endorse a candidate -- it usually does not get involved in local union elections -- and sitting FTA President Greg Gadams endorsed Ruiz.
Vue denies making these claims; on her fliers, she touts various training sponsorships from the teachers unions and says she is "highly respected" by union leaders.
Gadams said there appear to be grounds for a challenge. He said FTA bylaws require ethical conduct during elections, prohibit disparaging remarks from candidates and preclude the use of FTA equipment or materials to deliver campaign messages. Vue wrote campaign messages on the FTA's Facebook page.
Gadams, however, has been a strong supporter of Ruiz and, during the election, he put out campaign literature that was highly critical of Vue.
The FTA elections committee will review the challenge before making a recommendation to the executive board. If the board determines that election bylaws were violated, Vue and Ruiz will face off in a new election.
Gadams said new ballots would go out to the FTA's 3,200 members, and the new president would likely take office by July.
Vue made a comeback in the runoff election after trailing Ruiz by more than 150 votes in the April election. With no candidate achieving the 320 votes needed to win, the top two candidates went to a runoff.
After 931 ballots were cast, Vue won by 51 votes.
"It was a fair-and-square election," Vue said. "For the sake of our association members and our students, we have a bigger fight ahead of us, and we need to move on."
A previous version of this story incorrectly made one reference to a recall election. It was a runoff election.
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