Kiernan will challenge Verrone for presidency

WGA West president Patric Verrone will face board member Kathy Kiernan for the presidency of the guild in an election held against the backdrop of upcoming negotiations.

The WGA West disclosed the candidates list on Friday, three weeks prior to the July 16 launch of what are expected to be contentious contract talks with studios and nets.

A total of 23 candidates for 11 offices were selected by the guild’s nominating committee. Ballots for the election will be counted Sept. 18, six weeks prior to the Oct. 31 expiration of the current contract.

Members can also run for office via petition and have until July 20 to file.

Verrone, whose two-year term has been marked by a far more assertive approach to negotiations, had already announced plans to seek re-election. Kiernan won her seat last year as part of a slate backed by Verrone, a year after Verrone won the presidency over Ted Elliott with 69% backing.

Verrone’s background is in TV animation, working on such shows as “Futurama”; Kiernan is a CBS newswriter.

Verrone’s running mate, David N. Weiss, also is seeking re-election as VP against Walter Halsey Davis. And Verrone ally Elias Davis is running unopposed for re-election as secretary-treasurer.

Seven incumbents are seeking re-election for the eight board seats: Peter Lefcourt, Joan Meyerson, Robert King, Dan Wilcox, Howard A. Rodman, Phil Alden Robinson and Tom Schulman; incumbent Scott Frank isn’t seeking re-election. That group was part of Verrone’s slate two years ago.

Other candidates are Robert Adetuyi, Sally Sussman Morina, Nick Kazan, Peter Murrieta, Stephanie Liss, Robert Boris, Jim Cooper, Jeff Kleeman, Sonya Steele, Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal and Roberto Orci.

The elections, which usually draw about 20% participation from the 9,000 members, will be closely watched by the entire industry. Two years ago, Verrone’s Writers United slate easily swept the WGA West election after campaigning on a platform highlighted by a tougher negotiatng posture and promises of organizing nonunion work in reality, animation and cable.

Those results reflected members’ frustration with negotiations in 2004, when the WGA couldn’t achieve its key goal of sweetening the DVD payout formula. A week after the election, the board fired longtime exec director John McLean and replaced him with organizing chief David Young.

The WGA East, which has 4,000 members, already has announced its candidates for offices and its council. Chris Albers has passed on a second term as president, with council members Tom Phillips and Michael Winship seeking the post.

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