The announcement of who will take the helm of the powerful Hawaii State Teachers Association is being delayed for two weeks while the union holds a runoff for the slot of vice president.
Teachers cast their votes last month for president, vice president and secretary-treasurer of the HSTA in an election that pits current union leadership against teachers known for making waves.
Vying for the union’s top spot are HSTA Vice President Joan Lewis and Corey Rosenlee, a teacher who represents the Leeward Chapter on the HSTA Board of Directors. Current president Wil Okabe, who has held the position since 2009, is term-limited out.
Lewis has been in the news for her role last month in helping negotiate a 1.8 percent salary increase and a lump payment of $2,000 for each full-time teacher. Rosenlee is perhaps best known for organizing the Work to Rule protests, which made national headlines in 2012.
The results of the race were expected May 4, but were not certified by the board because none of the candidates for vice president received a majority of the votes cast, forcing a runoff.
Although some teachers recall vote results being announced during past runoff elections, the results for president and secretary-treasurer are being withheld this time until the new ballots for vice president are counted and the election is certified.
“We cannot post any updates on the election until after the board certifies the election results,” Okabe, the current president, said in a brief email statement.
The candidates in the runoff for vice president are Colleen Pasco and Justin Hughey.
Pasco, an English language arts teacher at Kohala High School and current secretary-treasurer for the union, campaigned with Lewis.
Hughey, a special education teacher from Maui, ran on a “Hawaii Teachers for Change” platform with Rosenlee.
Pasco did not respond to a request for comment. In a statement posted on Facebook, however, Pasco highlighted her work with Okabe, Lewis, and the HSTA board to “implement programs that take more of our work to the membership level.”
The post also noted an increase in “the number of professional development opportunities for teachers at reduced rates.”
“I feel we have made great progress over the last three years and there is much more work to be done,” Pasco said in the post.
Hughey, who works a second job at a restaurant to make ends meet and is also chairman of the Hawaii Democratic Party Education Caucus, said he wants to focus on increasing teacher pay.
There are efforts beyond the negotiating table that the union can make, Hughey said, including raising public awareness about the pay issue and organizing teachers.
“When factoring in the cost of living, the salary for teachers in the state of Hawaii is the worst in the country,” Hughey said. “It’s not a livable wage.”
Unlike the first election held in April, votes in the runoff for vice president cannot be submitted electronically. Instead, paper ballots must be delivered to the union office in Honolulu by 5 p.m. Friday, May 15.
“It would have been nice to have electronic ballots,” Hughey said.
Even with electronic voting, in 2012 only 2,700 out of 13,000 teachers cast ballots.
Results should also be announced May 16 for secretary-treasurer, with Amy Perruso, a social studies teacher at Mililani High School, running against Osa Tui Jr., a registrar at McKinley High School.
Correction:An earlier version of this story reported that a third candidate for vice president, Paul Daugherty, was still in the running. In fact, Daugherty, a math teacher at Konawaena High School who ran for HSTA president in 2012, had been on the original ballot but is not in the runoff.
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