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SEIU 99 president ‘still thinking’ about LAUSD board seat

Vanessa Romo | April 28, 2014

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SEIU99Barbara Torres, president of SEIU Local 99, is “still thinking about running” for a seat on the LA Unified School Board against incumbent Bennett Kayser despite concerns raised by the union’s executive director, says her campaign manager Lewis Myers.

“She has not made her decision yet,” Lewis told LA School Report. “There is a lot of good she could do for the families and students of LAUSD, and she’s still trying to figure out what is the best way of doing that.”

With respect to the possible conflict of interest for Torres to remain involved in on-going labor negotiations with the district while she is a candidate for the board — a question raised by Courtni Pugh, the union’s executive director — Myers said the concerns are unfounded.

“Labor has a rich tradition of developing leaders within their ranks and encouraging them to seek public office,” Myers said, and cited two recent examples: the new mayor of Boston, Martin Walsh, who ran while serving as the head of the city’s largest building trades group, and Mahlon Mitchell, president of the firefighter’s union in Wisconsin, who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor.

If Torres were to win, Myers continued, “she would certainly have to resign from LA Unified and thus surrender her membership with Local 99.”

Myers also addressed a possible conflict with Torres’s twin sister, Kathryn Torres, who chairs the union’s political action committee.

“Kathy Torres will not participate in the endorsement process of her sister if Barbara chooses to seek the endorsement of Local 99,” he said.

Furthermore, Myers asserts that Kathryn has has recused herself from all votes pertaining to the endorsements of all candidates throughout her 10-year tenure as chair.

Torres plans to clarify her plans by the beginning of summer, Myers said.

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