Two former Manhattan Beach mayors, Joyce Fahey and Bob Holmes, announced they will run for embattled School Board Trustee Bill Eisen’s potentially vacant seat in November.
In early 2008, a group of citizens decided to recall Eisen because of what they determined as inappropriate conduct, such as personal fiscal problems involving bankruptcy court where a judge declared breathtaking proportions of fraud; lying to the public in the print media (letters to the editor) regarding his School Board votes; and attacking the board for decisions made that he voted to approve.
School District Superintendent Bev Rohrer read the official letter from the Los Angeles Registrar County Clerk at the July 23 board meeting, verifying the total number of petition signatures for the recall election to move forward. The clerk reported that 5,167 of the signatures turned in were verified, surpassing the 4,650 minimal requirement mark. At this point, candidates may come forward.
Both Holmes and Fahey are longstanding Manhattan Beach public figures and they issued their intentions to run for Eisen’s potentially vacant seat July 21.
“There is a zero-percent chance that Bill Eisen will not be recalled,” said Holmes. He felt that the heightened public awareness about Eisen’s conduct on the School Board brought to light during the petition signature-gathering period makes it impossible for Eisen to survive the recall.
David Wachtfogel of the Recall Eisen Committee said the recall ballot question will follow an if/then format. Voters will first vote if they would like to recall Eisen, then cast a vote for a candidate to fill his seat. The candidate would only be elected to finish out Eisen’s four-year term, which expires in November 2009. The Eisen replacement would have a one-year term, then could seek to run again at the regularly scheduled November 2009 election. Eisen was elected to the School Board in 2005.
Holmes felt that it is important for the community to select a candidate to replace Eisen who is experienced and ready to go. “The board needs someone who is ready to hit the ground running. There are challenging times ahead with land-use, financial and personnel issues.”
Holmes served on the Manhattan Beach City Council from 1980 to 1992, with three stints as mayor. Most recently, he served on the Recall Eisen Committee. There are no regulations against a committee member running for the seat that Eisen is hoped to vacate. The committee only had a rule that it would not endorse any particular candidate as a committee.
Holmes said he has been active with the Manhattan Beach School District for 30 years. He has been the MBUSD personnel commissioner since 1978 and he served on the program alternative committee, which dealt with budget issues post-Proposition 13. He also has been a member of the MBEF business advisory council for more than 10 years.
Fahey’s civic record is also lengthy, making her a fair contender for Holmes to face.
“My recent experience on City Council gives me a unique opportunity to bridge any gap, if there is one, between the city and the School District,” said Fahey. She served two terms on the City Council from 1999 to 2007, and twice as mayor. Fahey also has an eighth-grader at Manhattan Beach Middle School, and has been active in her daughter’s school classrooms and PTAs. She currently serves as the parliamentarian for the PTA executive board at the middle school.
“I respect everyone on this School Board. It is the most professional School Board we have ever seen,” said Fahey. As a retired judge and currently a mediator and arbitrator, Fahey said she is used to confrontation, knows when to say no and has had her finger on the pulse of the community over the last decade.
Les Silverman, who previously ran for a board seat in 2008, said he will not run for the position should it be vacated. “I ran before with the intention of building bridges between the city and the School District. No one could do that better than a former City Council member,” said Silverman.