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Pasadena Star-News (Pasadena, CA)
Mar 19, 2005

by Cindy Chang, Staff Writer

New council members serve on school boards

ALHAMBRA, CA -- John Tran and John Nunez were both elected to the Rosemead City Council earlier this month on an anti-Wal-Mart platform. Both currently serve on local school boards, Tran in Garvey and Nunez in Alhambra.

While Nunez is stepping down from his school board duties Monday, Tran plans to stay on the Garvey panel until July, when budget deliberations are finished. The seat would remain vacant until the next regularly scheduled elections in November.

Tran says he foresees no conflict of interest in holding both offices concurrently. But an opinion from the California Attorney General's Office appears to prohibit an individual from serving on a city council and school board at the same time.

"Clearly, I would never compromise my duties as a public representative. Because of the part- time nature of the school board role, I will have no problem meeting the needs of my valued Rosemead residents,' Tran said in a prepared statement.

Tran called the attorney general's opinion "outdated' and said that it does not "draw the weight of the law.'

The 1990 opinion by then-Attorney General John Van de Kamp permitted a lawsuit against a politician who attempted to retain his seat on the Bassett school board after he was elected to the La Puente City Council. The public has "an interest in the undivided loyalty of their elected officers," Van de Kamp said in the opinion.

"Obviously, a school board member may want money from a city, or a service from a city, and the city has to balance that against other interests,"

The Alhambra school district is accepting applications to fill Nunez's seat. Applicants must be 18 years or older, registered to vote, and live within the Fifth District, which includes parts of Rosemead, Monterey Park and South San Gabriel.

The four remaining board members will interview the applicants and choose a new colleague at a public meeting on April 19 at 6 p.m. The new member will serve until Nunez's term expires in November 2006.

During most of Nunez's tenure, the school board was bitterly divided between two factions, with Nunez trying to straddle the fence between the groups. Now, all four members are political allies, and the board is expected to avoid the rancor that surrounded the Alhambra City Council's unsuccessful attempt to appoint an interim member last year.
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Cindy Chang can be reached at [626] 578-6300, Ext. 4586, or by e-mail at
cindy.chang@sgvn.com


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