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Teachers union elects leader
(Published February 7, 2005)

George Parker was declared the winner of a run-off election to select the new president of the Washington Teachers Union.

Parker, a ninth-grade math teacher at Eliot Junior High School, will head the organization with vice-presidential running mate Nathan Saunders. The run-off between the top two vote getters became necessary when no one received the required majority vote in the initial balloting at the end of last year.

Parker defeated opponent Rachel Hicks, a union field representative, after receiving 999 votes to Hicks' 816, according to results announced Jan. 27 by a union spokesman.

Parker could not be reached for comment, but Saunders said he and Parker consider their victory "a mandate from the teachers."

"They voted for us twice -- we won the first round as well as the run-off," said Saunders, who teaches history and government at Ballou Senior High School. "We're very pleased and we're excited about the change that we know that we can put in place to benefit children and the teachers in the District."

The union's election of new leaders marks the end of its two-year control by an interim administratorship created by the WTU's parent union, the AFL-CIO-affiliated American Federation of Teachers, after the union's last president admitted to stealing millions in union funds.

With the end of the administratorship, teachers once again will be "taking control of their own affairs," Saunders said.

Despite her defeat, Hicks said she remains a union field representative and stands "ready to continue to provide service to the members of the union."

"We ran a dignified campaign, one with integrity, knowledge, commitment, dedication and service," Hicks said.

Union spokesman Terrance Cooper said the approximately 1,800 votes cast in the run-off out of 4,400 "were a little less than we had expected."

But the turnout was higher than the less than 1,400 who voted in the first election, which determined Parker and Hicks as the race's front runners and contenders for the run-off.

Parker slightly edged Hicks in the first election – 520 to 514. Hicks has lodged a formal complaint against the election procedures.—By Stephanie Brinson

Copyright 2005 The Common Denominator