Fresno teachers to hold 4th election for same office

The Fresno BeeSeptember 22, 2012 

The battle over who will run the Fresno Teachers Association could soon take a new turn.

The California Teachers Association, parent organization of the Fresno Teachers Association, has called for a third runoff election for president. It will be the fourth election for the office since April.

The CTA said in a letter last week to Fresno union members that the new election will begin Oct. 9 with the same candidates: current president Eva Ruiz and challenger Mai Summer Vue.

CTA officials said the decision to hold another election was made after it investigated the two previous runoff elections held in May and July. The letter did not say why the state association was ordering a new election. But it said the election would be conducted by the CTA's Elections Committee, not the local union.

CTA officials could not be reached for comment Saturday.

Ruiz and Vue have been fighting over who will lead the 3,200-member union since the April election.

Back then, neither candidate emerged as the clear-cut winner. The FTA's bylaws require the winner to have at least 50% of the votes plus one.

Vue, a fourth grade teacher at John Muir Elementary School, won the first runoff election in May. But that victory was quickly challenged by Ruiz, who claimed Vue had lied and defamed her in campaign materials.

And despite concerns raised by CTA against scheduling another runoff election, the Fresno union went ahead with a second vote in July that Ruiz won.

This time, Vue challenged the results as a CTA investigation ensued.

Vue said Saturday that she is not sure what the outcome will be of the third runoff election. But she is not ready to give up.

"I can't just walk away," Vue said. "And for those teachers who care about democracy and who care about electing leaders they can trust, they better vote."

Ruiz, a kindergarten teacher at Sunset Elementary, declined to comment, referring all questions to members of the FTA's executive board.

Rosemary Velasco, FTA treasurer and a member of the executive board, would only say that the board was looking for "clarification" from CTA about the new runoff election.

"As soon as we get that communication, we can make a decision about what our next action will be," Velasco said.

Asked if she thought the FTA had a choice to hold a new runoff election or not, she said: "That would be difficult to comment on until the board makes a decision and reports out to its members."

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6327, or @FresnoBeeBob on Twitter.

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