Faculty Association challenges trustee candidates

By Samantha Bartholomew

With a little over two months before the Board of Trustees elections, the Riverside Community College District Faculty Association formally challenged the candidate designations of Brian Hawley and Sam Davis.

“During (Davis’s) short tenure, which can easily be characterized as a complete disaster,” Rhonda Taube, RCCDFA president, said in an email. “Mr. Davis proved to have absolutely no understanding or appreciation of the values and mission of RCCD as an institution of higher learning.”

Dariush Haghighat, RCCDFA’s vice president, also claimed that Davis never showed any interest in reaching out or forming any kind of relationship with RCCD stakeholders.

“(We are) challenging (Davis’s) designation of “retired educator” and “dentist” for similar reasons. Mr. Davis has not provided evidence that he has taught in any capacity at an educational institution and has not provided evidence that he completed a D.D.S. degree or practiced dentistry,” Haghighat said in an email. “In fact, Mr. Davis’s claim to having received a D.D.S. were rejected by the Riverside Community College District Board of Trustees when he was a member of that body.”

Haghighat also points out that Davis’s failure to provide evidence of degree attainment or career experience and his title of “Dr.” was changed to “Mr.” during his time on the Board.

Davis’s self-designation as a dentist was first called into question when he was first elected to the Board in 2010. The Dental Board of California showed no license for him, but Davis refused to discuss the matter at the time.

The RCCDFA also formally challenged the candidate statement of Hawley, who the association has referred to as “an extremely wealthy businessman with very limited knowledge of education.”

“Mr. Hawley is not currently an educator as his primary vocation, nor has he been one during the past calendar year. Mr. Hawley is a small business owner and not a teacher in either the K-12 or post-secondary education systems in the state of California,” Haghighat said.

Haghighat claims that Hawley used this ballot designation to mislead voters and suggesting that he is an expert in a field in which he has no expertise, both of which are direct violations of the California Elections Code.

In response to the challenge, Hawley submitted to the Registrar of Voters justifying his designation as “educator” are two letters from instructors at University of California, Riverside Extension and California Baptist University confirming Hawley’s presentations in their classes as a guest lecturer.

“We are confident that all of you as true educators share the Faculty Association’s sentiment that the suggestion that a couple of presentations in someone else’s class qualifies one as an “educator” is extremely offensive and insulting to our profession,” Taube said in an email, along with Haghighat.

The RCCDFA obtained a lawyer that specializes in elections to represent them and were told by their attorney, Laurence S. Zakson, that they had a tight case, as Hawley has no practical experience that would allow him to be considered an educator.

“As professional educators themselves, RCCDFA and its members feel very strongly about their vocation and it is presented to the voters and they are deeply concerned that Mr. Hawley’s proposed designation does not comply with the requirements of the Elections Code and has a likelihood of confusing and misleading the public,”  Zakson said in a letter to the Registrar of Voters on Sept. 10.

However, due to time constraints, the association was forced to relent after being told that continuing would prevent the printing of the entire ballot for all of Riverside County for the November election.

The Registrar of Voters rejected the RCCDFA appeals that Hawley ballot designation as “educator.” Since Hawley was a guest lecturer in a UCR extension class, the Registrar of Voters believes Hawley’s ballot designation should remain intact for now.

The legal counsel for the Registrar of Voters told RCCDFA that the best option is to submit a writ to a judge requesting the removal of Hawley’s “educator” ballot designation.    

“We will do everything we can to shed light on Mr. Hawley’s level of deception,” Haghighat said. “We cannot and must not allow a candidate that is aware he cannot win the election fairly and honestly serves as our Trustee.”

Neither Davis nor Hawley responded to Viewpoints’ requests for comment on the challenging of their campaigns.

As of Sept. 19, “retired educator” has been removed from Davis’s designation.