Recall of Ken Lopez-Maddox and Mike Winsten, Capistrano Unified School District, California (2010)

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A vote about whether to recall Ken Lopez-Maddox and Mike Winsten from their positions as trustees of the Capistrano Unified School District in Orange County was on the November 2, 2010 ballot.[1]

Lopez-Maddox and Winsten were both recalled. Gary Pritchard replaced Maddox and John Alpay replaced Winsten.

Election results

Ken Lopez-Maddox

Recall vote

Lopez-Maddox recall
Approveda Yes 61,495 61.3%
These final, certified results are from the Orange County elections office.

Replacement vote

Candidates to replace Maddox
Candidates: Votes %
ApprovedaGary Pritchard 43,042 55.7%
Paul Hebbard 19,897 25.7%
Gary V. Miller 14,367 18.6%

Election results from Adams County, Unofficial Election Results Summary

Mike Winsten

Recall vote

Winsten recall
Approveda Yes 62,208 61.4%
These final, certified results are from the Orange County elections office.

Replacement vote

Candidates to succeed Winsten
Candidates: Votes %
ApprovedaJohn Alpay 69,428 100%

Election results from Adams County, Unofficial Election Results Summary


The recall effort was launched in January 2010.[2] 65,903 signatures were submitted to election authorities on May 14.[3]

A group called "Parents for Local Control" sponsored the recall effort.[4] The Capistrano Unified Education Association, which represents teachers in the district, threw its support behind the recall effort.[5]

Lopez-Maddox was elected to the school district's board of trustees in June 2008. The terms of both Lopez-Maddox and Winsten, if they had not been recalled, would have expired in 2012.

The November 2, 2010 recall election, combined with the fact that 3 other seats on the 7-member board were up for routine re-election on that day, was a game-changing election for control of the board. The Ellen Addonizio, Anna Bryson and Larry Christensen seats were up for regular re-election.[6]

In 2008, Sheila Benecke and Marlene Draper were recalled from the Capistrano USD board.

Method of Electing Trustees of the Capistrano Unified School District

Measure H (2010), on the same November 2 ballot as the Lopez-Maddox and Winsten recall votes, had supporters and opponents who lined up in roughly the same way as with the recall questions.

Recall and Measure H election results

The recalls of Winsten and Lopez-Maddox were approved by over 62% of voters and carried all but 15 precincts within the CUSD election boudaries. The passage of Measure H was approved by over 65% of voters and carried all but five precincts within the CUSD election boudaries

Candidates for school board

On November 2, when the recall election took place, 3 other seats on the CUSD school board were also in play. Since there were a total of 7 seats on the board, any group that won 4 out of the 5 seats that were up for grabs on November 2 would then have a majority of 4 votes on the 7-member board. Two groups vied against each other in this battle royale: "Children First" and "The Committee to Reform CUSD"[7]

12 candidates for 5 seats

Altogether, 12 candidates ran for the 5 seats that were up for election on November 2: The 3 seats that were routinely open on November 2, and the 2 seats that became open when the recalls of Lopez-Maddox and Winsten were successful.

Candidates, and the seats they ran for, included:

  1. Ellen Addonizio, board incumbent, running for re-election.
  2. Anna Bryson, board incumbent, running for re-election.
  3. Larry Christensen, board incumbent, running for re-election.
  4. Recall target, incumbent Ken Lopez-Maddox
  5. Recall target, incumbent Mike Winsten
  6. Gary Pritchard, a professor at a community college who lives in Aliso Viejo, ran for the seat that will become available if Ken Lopez-Maddox is recalled. Pritchard is supported by "Children First."[8]
  7. John Alpay, an attorney who lives in San Clemente, ran for the seat that will become available if Mike Winsten is recalled. Alpay is supported by "Children First."[8] Alpay was not endorsed or supported by the local teachers union
  8. Lynn Hatton. Hatton ran for the seat currently held by Larry Christensen. Her candidacy is supported by "Children First," a group that supports the recall.[9]
  9. Saam Alikhani, a Dana Point resident and incoming UC Irvine freshman. Capistrano Unified Children First has endorsed Alikhani. 18-year-old Alikhani said, ""I am very excited and very confident because I know I can do a better job than all the trustees that are on the board today."[10] He ran for the position currently occupied by school board President Anna Bryson. Alikhani was supported by Children First.
  10. Martha McNicholas, challenging incumbent Ellen Addonizio.[11]. McNicholas was supported by Children First but was not endorsed or supported by the teachers union
  11. Gary Miller, challenging recall target Ken Lopez-Maddox.[11]
  12. Paul Hebbard, challenging recall target Ken Lopez-Maddox.[11]

Campaign finances

Through September 30, 2010, recall-backing group Capistrano Unified Children First had spent approximately $120,000 on its campaign for the recall and for school board candidates friendly to the group's goals. The local teacher's union provided no money to Children First at any time during this election.[12] Capistrano Unified Education Association funded the distribution of glossy mailers supporting three of its candidates, and reported spending $261,863 through late October.[13] Roger and Ann Worthington, attorneys in Capistrano Beach, donated $27,600 to Capistrano Unified Children First.[14]

CUEA, the local teacher's association, supported three of Children First's chosen candidates. Children First operated independently of CUEA throughout the entire election.

By Election Day Capistrano Unfied Children First, CUCF, raised and spent approximately $155,000 supporting Measure H, the two recalls and the five candidates for school board: John Alpay, Gary Pritchard, Martha McNicholas, Saam Alikhani and Lynn Hatton. 100% of this money was raised from within the CUSD school district boundaries and came from parents, educators, homeowners and voters living within CUSD. There was no money raised or spent by Children First from organizations within or outside of CUSD including teachers associations or unions.

The local teachers assocation spent heavily on TV advertising and direct mail and get out the vote efforts. CUCF paid for newspaper ads, voter identification postcards, yard signs and slate mailers.

Shirley Grindle, described as a "longtime campaign finance watchdog for Orange County," said, "It's very unusual to see this kind of money in a school district race, no matter where it comes from. I don't recall any school district election where this much money was being spent."[13]

The Committee to Reform CUSD, which supported Lopez-Maddox and Winsten and other candidates, spent $10,752 through September 30.[12]

Response of recall targets

On January 25, recall targets Ken Lopez-Maddox and Mike Winsten sent a letter to leaders of the recall effort, threatening to sue the group for making what the recall targets described in the letter as "numerous illegal, false and misleading statements." The 10-page letter specifically mentioned six alleged factual errors made by recall supporters in the 200-word document they filed with election officials describing their reasons for seeking the recall.[15]

The letter also said that the recall effort is "ill-conceived" and "fatally flawed and must immediately be abandoned."[15]

Lopez-Maddow and Winsten also indicated in their letter that if recall supporters continued with their effort, this might expose them to "civil and criminal liability."[15]

Pete Espinosa, a leader in the recall effort who has previously served on the district's board, said that the recall effort would not be deterred by the strongly-worded communication from Lopez-Maddox and Winsten: "It's a way to delay and test us. It just reconfirms why I signed the recall petition."[15]

Mike Winsten

Recall target Mike Winsten is an attorney and a father of five. He was elected to the CUSD board in 2008, defeating longtime incumbent Duane Stiff.

In an August 2010 conversation with the editors of the Dana Point Times, Winsten observed that he was told on the day in 2008 that he was sworn into office that he was going to be recalled:

"If you recall that first night I was sworn in, I was told I would be facing a recall … I was told that I had broken campaign promises before I had been sworn in and before I had taken a vote, I had been threatened by recall before I voted on anything. So obviously this all had been orchestrated from, in my view, the day after the November 4, 2008 election. And the orchestration started the night I was sworn in."[16]

With respect to the impact of union organizing in the CUSD district, Winsten said:

"You can’t break a union. They’re creatures of state law. They’re here to stay. Until state law changes, they aren’t going anywhere. Do I think they are sometimes overbearing and self-serving to the detriment of our students and our children? Yes, I do and I think this experience this past spring is a perfect example of that, when they went to war and a strike over a desire to balance the budget by raising class sizes and firing more young teachers. And this board said no. We’re not going to raise every class size by two. We’re not going to fire 300 more teachers or whatever the number turned out to be. We want to not raise class sizes across the board, k-12 like the fact-finder recommended. Let’s work it out …and they said we’re going on strike.
Our unions are well organized and well counseled with the best lawyers and pension accountants and all the rests. They negotiated some fantastic deals for themselves when the economy was going very well in the tech boom and the housing boom … and they negotiated these great deals, except they forget to negotiate the part of the deal that says when the economy contracts that the salaries and benefits also need to role backwards. So that’s what we were stuck with here in CUSD this past year.
It’s a big lesson for a lot of people. It’s a lesson that goes far beyond CUSD.
Unfortunately they’re very good at saying one thing in the negotiating room and saying another thing in their email blast to the public and parents."[16]

Recall re-start

"Parents for Local Control" pushed the re-set button on their recall effort in early February after their initial recall petition drew criticism from attorneys for the recall target. The pro-recall group issued a statement that said in part, "In order to remove any doubt about the wording or validity of service pertaining to these documents, the petitioners elected to reword the petitions and serve notice to the trustees a second time."[17]

Re-starting the recall means that recall organizers have lost 3 weeks out of the 12 week period they had set as their goal for gathering the required number of signatures. They are allowed 23 weeks to collect signatures, but hoped to collect the signatures earlier in order to qualify the recall measure for the November 2 ballot. Going past the November 2 election would require an expensive special election.

Parents for Local Control disbanded once the qualifying number of petition signatures had been certified by the Orange County Registrar of Voters. Once the recall of Winsten and Maddox was certified by the OCROV this committee no longer was involved in the election.

Teacher's strike

In mid-January 2010, the Capistrano Unified School District teachers union advocated to its members that they "work to the contract" for one week in order to make a point to the district and public about the extent of extra work the union believes teachers do. Teachers were asked not to use their personal time to grade papers, tutor students or return phone calls from parents.

The union was backing the recall effort targeted at board members Ken Lopez-Maddox and Mike Winsten.[18]

The slowdown was advocated as the school district was in the midst of negotiations between the district and the union over salaries and fringe benefits. The district had estimated that it needed to cut expenses in order to eliminate a $34 million deficit.

In April 2010, after the school board imposed a 10.1% pay cut on teachers, 87% of Capistrano Unified School District teachers voting in a union election gave their governing board the authority to call a strike.[19]

Frequent recalls

The recall election targeting Lopez-Maddox and Winsten was the third recall vote in the district in five years.

Michael Petracca, a professor of political science at UC Irvine, commented on the political environment in the district, saying, "In some ways, it is the complete collapse of comity, or willingness of people to interact in a civilized way. It is like you feel your only choice to make your voice heard is to bludgeon someone in the head."[5]

Path to the ballot

To force a recall election, 21,850 valid signatures were needed for each targeted trustee. To qualify the recall for the November 2, 2010 ballot, organizers needed to collect the required number of signatures by early July 2010, because the deadline to certify measures for the November 2 ballot was August 6 and the signatures would have to be filed with election authorities about 30 days before the August deadline to give them time to scrutinize and validate any signatures that are filed.

However, recall supporters legally had 160 days to collect the required signatures, so if they had missed the early July deadline for the November ballot, they could have continued to collect signatures. [15] A special election would have cost about $800,000.[20]

On Friday, May 10, recall organizers submitted 65,903 signatures to election officials. 32,803 signatures were submitted on the Lopez-Maddox recall petition and 33,100 signatures were submitted on the Winsten recall petition.[3] According to the Orange County Registrar of Voters this was the fastest a recall had been qualified for the ballot in Orange County history. No professional petition gatherers were used in the collection of these signatures. The recall effort was conducted entirely by volunteers.

Parents for Local Control disbanded once the qualifying number of petition signatures had been certified by the Orange County Registrar of Voters. Once the recall of Winsten and Maddox was certified by the OCROV this committee no longer was involved in the election.

See also

External links

Suggest a link

Additional reading


  1. Orange County Register, "Capo recall qualifies for November ballot," June 22, 2010
  2. Orange County Register, "Capistrano district faces 3rd recall try," January 15, 2010
  3. 3.0 3.1 Orange County Register, "Capo recall leaders turn in 65,903 signatures," May 17, 2010
  4. Dana Point Times, "A New Year, A New Recall," January 15-21, 2010
  5. 5.0 5.1 Los Angeles Times, "Political war continues to rage in Capistrano Unified School District," April 27, 2010
  6. Capistrano Dispatch, "Upheaval Continues in Capistrano Unified," January 22, 2010
  7. Capo school factions gear up for 'ugly' election," July 13, 2010
  8. 8.0 8.1 Capistrano Dispatch, "CUSD Trustee Candidates Gary Pritchard and John Alpay Sound Off," July 23, 2010
  9. Dana Point Times, "Children First Announce Lynn Hatton for CUSD Trustee Candidate," July 23, 2010
  10. Orange County Register, "College freshman, 18, seeks Capo Unified board seat," July 27, 2010
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 San Clemente Times, "CUSD Election Update," August 12, 2010 (dead link)
  12. 12.0 12.1 Orange County Register, "Spending in Capo school board race hits $184,573," October 19, 2010
  13. 13.0 13.1 Orange County Register, "Capo election spending soars, topping $374,000," October 30, 2010
  14. Dana Point Times, "Spending Update in the CUSD Race," October 29, 2010
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 Orange County Register, "Capo trustees threaten lawsuit to stop recall," January 28, 2010
  16. 16.0 16.1 Dana Point Times, "In the Center of the Storm: CUSD Trustee Mike Winsten reflects on two years in office"
  17. Orange County Register, "Parents restart recall effort against 2 Capo trustees," February 2, 2010
  18. Southern California Public Radio, "Teachers at Capistrano Unified stage work slowdown," January 25, 2010 (dead link)
  19. Orange County Register, "Capistrano Unified teachers authorize strike," April 16, 2010
  20. Dana Point Times, "CUSD Recall Effort Continues," March 4, 2010