September 15, 1970 —
Recall, SCV Style: Voters oust incumbents Curtis Huntsinger and Edward Duarte from the William S. Hart Union High School District board.
One element sparking the recall movement was the school board's reversal, led by Huntsinger, of Superintendent C.T. Haan's decision to let a group of Canyon High School students stage a demonstration and circulate petitions in opposition
to the war in Vietnam the previous October. By election day, the conservative board had fired its more liberal superintendent.
It appeared Huntsinger and Duarte would retain their seats until the ballots
came in from Canyon Country, which voted 2-1 in favor of recall. Replacement candidates Carroll Word and Thomas Hanson captured large majorities on the recall ballot. Hanson had been criticized by Huntsinger
for saying students should be able to protest however and whenever they want, a charge Hanson denied (The Signal, 10/20/1969).
Unification plans may have hurt the incumbents, as well. Three times in the 1960s — in 1960, 1965 and 1967 — the Hart School Board pursued plans to unify the Santa Clarita Valley into
a single K-12 school district. Voters soundly rejected it each time.
The Huntsinger family owned a properous turkey ranch near Acton. Curtis Huntsinger had been reelected to the Hart School Board several times and previously served on the Saugus
(Elementary) School Board; his brother, Peter Huntsinger, served on the board of College of the Canyons.
Duarte owned Thrify Shopper, a small, independent grocery on Soledad Canyon Road in the middle of Canyon Country's main business corridor. He had previously served on the Newhall (Elementary) School Board.
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Huntsinger, Duarte Lose Close Recall Election.
The Signal | Wednesday, September 16, 1970.
Curtis Huntsinger and Edward Duarte were recalled from the William S. Hart Board of Trustees in a very dramatic and very close election yesterday.
It wasn't until almost midnight last night when the final precinct, the mammoth one at the Sulphur Springs School, came in to decide the election.
Until that point, it appeared that the two Hart Trustees had successfully turned back the serious recall challenge led by a group of citizens calling themselves the School Rescue Committee.
Huntsinger and Duarte had clung to a precarious 30-vote lead, a margin that had increased and dwindled throughout the evening as various precincts reported, until "precinct 12" was finally tallied.
But the large turn-out in this precinct alone, representing Sand Canyon and Sierra Hills homes, voted nearly two-to-one in favor of the recall.
The final vote with all 15 precincts reporting was 2,472 in favor of recalling Duarte and 2,320 asking that he be retained. Huntsinger was defeated by a 2,450 to 2,323 margin.
The returns, however, are not official and will not be accepted as final until the registrar of voters office in Los Angeles holds an official canvass in about 10 days.
While Huntsinger and Duarte were going down to defeat, voters selected Thomas Hanson, a Newhall engineer, and Dr. Carroll Word, a Methodist minister from Saugus, to replace them on the Board. Each man easily outdistanced his closest rivals on the recall ballot.
Both Hanson and Word had run as candidates with the powerful endorsement of the School Rescue Committee.
The defeat of Huntsinger was particularly dramatic in that he has consistently run as one of the strongest candidates in Valencia Valley school races.
When Huntsinger, an Acton turkey rancher by profession, reran for office in the spring of 1969, he garnered the largest vote total of any school candidate in local election history.
Huntsinger was in the midst of his tenth year in office when he was recalled; he had won his last three elections with ease.
Duarte was serving in the third year of his first four-year term.
Both men had served previously on elementary school boards, Huntsinger on the Saugus Board and Duarte on the Newhall Board.
Hanson and Word will both take office within days after the official canvass is complete, and certainly before the next Hart Board meeting scheduled for September 21.
The turnout of 4,792 voters represented about 25.7 percent of all registered voters in the school district.
The breakdown in the voting showed the vote on Duarte at 51.5 percent favoring recall and 48.5 percent in favor of retaining him as a Trustee. Huntsinger totals were 51.3 percent favoring recall and 48.7 percent to keep him.