Rick Ledesma OUSD Trustee Orange Unified Education Association OUEA Teachers Union

Rick Ledesma, Longtime Teachers Union Supporter

Rick Ledesma has been a longtime supporter of the teachers’ union during the more than three decades since he was first elected to the OUSD Board in 1993. Despite posturing by 2024 No on Recall campaign that Mr. Ledesma has always been anti-union, Mr. Ledesma has been quoted as a strong supporter of the teachers’ union.

Rick Ledesma Supports Union Funding of Campaigns

On October 27, 2001, the LA Times reported that: “Orange Unified Education Assn., the teachers’ union, is backing…Rick Ledesma…to unseat the remaining members of the old board majority.” The four candidates supported by the teachers’ union “combined raised $125,000, compared with about $21,000 raised by their respective opponents.”

Rick Ledesma was unapologetic about union funding, even boasting that it represented the community, stating: “‘The community is saying we have no confidence in the old board,’ Ledesma said of the disparity in campaign funds. The other side ‘will say the unions are bankrolling our campaigns . . . but this is a grass-roots effort.‘”

Who is Rick Ledesma?

Ledesma served as an Orange Unified School District Trustee from 1993 to 1997, then again from 2001 to present. Rick Ledesma is unusually quiet, failing to complete many candidate surveys. Some basic information is as follows:

1993 – Ledesma first elected to OUSD board

Rick Ledesma first joined the OUSD board in 1993. The election results in 1993 were as follows for Trustee Area 7:

  • Rick Ledesma: 11,143 (40.2)
  • Marvella McAllister: 10,412 (37.5)
  • Alan E. Irish (incumbent): 6,175 (22.3)

In 1993, Ledesma indicated his support for school vouchers.

On August 6, 1996, the LA Times reported that “Ledesma…describes himself as conservative….”

Interestingly, even back in 1996, the LA Times was quoting none other than Mark Bucher: “‘People are fed up with what they see going on in education,’ said Mark Bucher, co-director of the Educational Alliance, which dispersed $36,000 to three dozen school board candidates countywide in 1994. ‘We will win more seats. Give us time.’”

1997 – Ledesma, as a “moderate,” loses reelection with the support of the teacher’s union

By August 9, 1997, the LA Times stated that “Trustee Rick Ledesma…is viewed as a moderate.” This contrasts with the October 20, 1993, description of Ledesma as a “conservative candidate.”

The LA Times explained that: “The local union affiliate spent $60,000 in the campaign…. The statewide union also gave $2,700 worth of support to each of the four union-endorsed candidates: $10,800 in all.” Another article explained the coalitions.

On October 30, 1997, the LA Times stated: “Observers say that Kids First and other groups behind the moderate candidates are, indeed, providing more help this year than in past races. Their slate includes incumbents Rick Ledesma and James Fearns, who regularly are on the losing side of 4-3 votes on the contentious school board. [Two other candidates] also are endorsed by the OUEA and Kids First, a coalition of groups including local Democratic clubs, the gay-Republicans’ Log Cabin club and gay-rights groups, and the Elections Committee of Orange County, known as ECCO.”

On election day, November 4, 1997, the LA Times explained that: “Incumbents Martin Jacobson, James Fearns and Rick Ledesma face challenges from Gisela Meier, Linda Davis, Kathy Ward, Bea Gonzalez, J. Carolan Smyth III and Robert L. Douglas.”

On November 5, 1997, the LA Times reported that “Kathy Ward…knocked off incumbent Rick Ledesma,” explaining that “the most potent opposition force by far was the Orange teachers union, which outspent all other interest groups in the campaign in support of a four-candidate slate” including “Ledesma, 35, a financial advisor.

That LA Times article, entitled “Orange Board Increases Conservative Majority,” reported that: “The election gave the conservatives an apparent 6-to-1 majority on the school board, up from the narrow 4-to-3 edge they had held since 1993. It was a stunning defeat for the teachers union, which had opposed the board majority.” In other words, Rick Ledesma’s loss in 1997 meant that he was replaced with a conservative.

The LA Times archives shows the following result of the 1997 election in which Rick Ledesma was not re-elected:

  • Kathy Ward 7,620 – 43.1%
  • Rick Ledesma 7,142 – 40.4%
  • Bea Gonzalez 1,524 – 8.5%
  • J. Carolan Smyth III 701 – 4.0%
  • Robert L. Douglas 699 – 4.0%

2001 – Ledesma elected back to the OUSD Board with support of the teachers’ union

On June 26, 2001, OUSD held a recall election that recalled Martin Jacobson and Maureen Aschoff, resulting in John Ortega being elected.

On November 1, 2001, the LA Times published an article “Ousted Trustees Fight to Retake Seats in Orange,” described that “the forces behind the recall are now supporting a slate of candidates they hope will solidify their hard-won new majority.” The LA Times continued that trustee “Kathy Ward,” who was a member “of the old majority…not targeted by the recall campaign,” is “facing [a] challenge” from “former trustee Rick Ledesma,…who[ is] backed by the teachers union and its supporters. For Ledesma, this is the second showdown with Ward, who beat him in the 1997 election.”

On August 11, 2001, the LA Times wrote: “In June, [2001,] by the narrowest of margins, voters pushed Jacobson, Davis and trustee Maureen Aschoff from office and replaced them with Moffat, Smith and John Ortega, all of whom are sympathetic to the teachers’ union.”

On October 27, 2001, the LA Times reported in the article entitled “Orange Unified Teachers’ Slate Far Ahead in Funding,” making clear that Ledesma has the full support of the teacher’s union as follows: “Orange Unified Education Assn., the teachers’ union, is backing Smith and Moffat for reelection and Rick Ledesma and Kimberlee Nichols to unseat the remaining members of the old board majority.”

On November 6, 2001, Ledesma successfully ran for election to the OUSD Board where he was no longer a trustee. The results of the election listing Ledesma as having an “Occupation: Budget, Financial Analyst” were as follows:

  • Rick Ledesma 10,430 votes (57.2%)
  • Kathy Ward (incumbent) 6,578 votes (36.1%)
  • Alan E. Irish 1,215 votes (6.7%)

On November 7, 2001, the LA Times wrote an article entitled “Teachers’ Slate Wins in Orange,” stating: “Teachers union-backed candidates for the besieged Orange school board easily swept all four contested seats Tuesday…. The other two candidates on the union-backed slate, Kimberlee Nichols and Rick Ledesma, defeated incumbents Terri Sargeant and Kathy Ward by large margins.” This is shown below.

Subsequent Elections of Rick Ledesma

On November 2, 2010, Ledesma was reelected, defeating the quirky Steve Rocco for Orange Unified School District Board Member, Trustee Area 7:

  • Rick Ledesma -72.2% (39,413)
  • Steve Rocco – 27.8% (15,148)

In 2014, Ledesma was again reelected, defeating Tim Perez and Steve Rocco:

  • Rick Ledesma – 56.6% (22,235)
  • Tim Perez – 32.6% (12,812)
  • Steve Rocco – 10.7% (4,213)

In 2018, Ledesma was reelected as follows:

  • Rick Ledesma – 49.6% (32,953)
  • Sean Griffin – 39.2% (26,036)
  • Steve Rocco – 11.2% (7,404)

In 2022, Ledesma was reelected as follows:

  • Rick Ledesma – 51.4% (31,556)
  • Sean Griffin – 31.6% (19,358)
  • Mike Nguyen – 17.0% (10,421)

What does Rick Ledesma currently think about the teachers’ union?

Historically, Rick Ledesma has undoubtedly been supported by teachers’ unions, including Orange Unified Education Association. What, exactly, he thinks about the union these days is not entirely clear. Supposing he has flip flopped, when he changed his opinion and why is also not clear.

More information