18 Eye Spot on WGA West Board

Eighteen writers will vie for eight open seats on the WGA West board, the guild said Wednesday in releasing the full list of candidates for the fall election.

Current president Daniel Petrie Jr. and challenger Eric Hughes were confirmed as the two presidential candidates, as was expected, along with vp candidates Dennis Feldman, a board member, and current vp Carl Gottlieb (HR 6/16).

The guild's nominating committee selected three incumbent board members to run for the eight open seats. They are Ron Bass, Lisa Seidman and Dan Wilcox.

The other board candidates are Aaron Mendelsohn, David Weiss, Alex Sokoloff, Thomas Cook, Chris Nee, Lynn Roth, John Bowman, Valerie Woods, Larry Wilmore, David Garrett, Ted Elliot, Christopher Keyser, Garner Simmons, Bernard Lechowick and Craig Mazin.

The election will take place Sept. 20 in conjunction with WGA West's annual membership meeting. The special government election, which is being conducted under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Labor, will be for a one-year term. The vp victor also will serve for one year, while the eight board members will serve for two years. Ballots will be counted Sept. 21.

Half of the board's 16 seats come up for election every year. Four current members declined to seek re-election: Feldman, Jeff Melvoin, Joan Meyerson and David Rintels. Gottlieb's seat also was vacated when he was elevated to vp in March after Petrie took over when Charles Holland resigned as president over questions about his credibility.

Holland's departure was the second consecutive setback for the guild, as he had replaced Victoria Riskin when it was discovered that she had been ineligible to run in the September election against Hughes.

Hughes and his friend Ron Parker pressed the issue, leading to an independent investigation by Stanford University School of Law professor William Gould. Gould concluded that Riskin had not been eligible to run for office because of a lapse in her membership.

WGA West established a governance committee to study the alleged election improprieties but did not set a new election. Hughes and Parker filed a complaint with the Department of Labor, resulting in a settlement that required the guild to hold a new presidential election and make Hughes an automatic candidate for president.

"I feel that for a change we need to tell the truth, and the guild has not been telling the truth," Hughes said, promising an intense effort to challenge the guild's current staff and leadership on their handling of issues. "The guild loves to invoke confidentiality, and this is a union where very few things need to be confidential."

As such, he plans to challenge Petrie to several public debates, something the current president welcomed.

"The guild has always believed in being democratic, almost excruciatingly so at times, and so I expect that we will have vigorous discussions on all of the issues facing us," Petrie said. "There will also be a lot of focus on this election given what's gone on at the guild and that it's being supervised by the DOL."

The guild has already set aside Sept. 1 as the evening for members to meet the candidates.

Candidates also can run by petition, a process that allows currently active members in good standing to run for president or vp if they obtain 50 signatures of other active members in good standing. Board candidates need 25 signatures, and the deadline in either case to submit the signatures is 5:30 p.m. July 23.