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October 14, 2005

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Publication Date: Friday, October 14, 2005

Candidates, applicants overlap in Foothill-De Anza race Candidates, applicants overlap in Foothill-De Anza race (October 14, 2005)

College district's board to fill Andrea Leiderman's seat the day after election

By Molly Tanenbaum

The race for Foothill-De Anza Board of Trustees now has a new twist.

Last week, the board decided to appoint a community member to the seat left vacant as a result of the recent death of trustee Andrea Leiderman. The appointment will be made on Nov. 9, just one day after the November election chooses two of the four candidates to fill seats on the board.

The close post-election timing, keeping within the 60-day limit for vacancies on the board, means that the four candidates for the two elected seats -- Paul Fong, Laura Casas Frier, Julia Miller and Bruce Swenson -- may apply for appointment to Leiderman's seat as well. In other words, one candidate could lose the race but be appointed anyway. Or the board may choose to appoint someone else altogether.

Incumbent trustee and candidate Paul Fong has already announced that he does not plan to apply; he would rather be a part of the appointment process to select Leiderman's successor.

"I'm going to look for someone like Andrea: progressive, a feminist, someone who believes in equal rights for all," Fong said.

But for Frier, Miller and Swenson, it would be in their best interest to apply for the third vacant spot to raise their chances of gaining a seat on the board, Miller said.

"With two people who aren't going to win, it just seems like a wise move," she said.

The candidates will not necessarily have an advantage in the application process, according to Betsy Bechtel, vice president of the board of trustees, who along with fellow members of the current board will choose the new appointee.

"We would not have an automatic appointment of the third-place person," Bechtel said. "We're looking for the most qualified, and one that will bring a broad perspective to the district."

According to Miller, applying for the appointed seat as a candidate is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, a candidate who has been working hard in the campaign may be viewed as having more drive and passion to be a Foothill-De Anza trustee than an applicant who did not run, because "if you wanted it, you'd be a candidate struggling and working hard" for the office.

On the other hand, she said, the board may decide to align with the voters by not picking the losing candidate, especially if he or she lost by a large margin.

Leiderman's term was due to last until 2007, and the appointed trustee will carry out the remainder of her term. The pricier alternative to an appointed seat would be to hold a special election, which would cost the district about $2 million, Bechtel said.

Applicants for the trustee appointment must reside and be registered to vote in the district's area, which includes Mountain View, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Cupertino, Palo Alto, Sunnyvale and parts of San Jose, Santa Clara and Saratoga. They must turn in their applications by Friday, Oct. 21

"We encourage people to apply. Just because they weren't a candidate for the election doesn't mean we won't consider them. We want to consider everybody," Bechtel said.

E-mail Molly Tanenbaum at [email protected]

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