SAG-AFTRA has issued the official candidates list for its first election since merging last year, with current co-president Ken Howard running for president against Paul Edney, Marilyn Monrovia and Esai Morales.
SAG-AFTRA announced the official candidates list late Friday.
Variety first reported last month Morales and Howard were facing off for the presidency of the performers union.
Morales and Austin are heading the Membership First slate, which states on its web site: “We stand for placing the needs and concerns of the unions’ membership in first position; communicating clearly with SAG-AFTRA members. We believe members should receive information regarding SAG-AFTRA and our rights as union members, without spin or manipulated rhetoric.”
Howard, elected in 2009 as the 25th and final president of SAG shortly after winning an Emmy for “Grey Gardens,” was a strong advocate for merger and has portrayed himself as a pragmatist. Variety first reported last month that he would run for the SAG-AFTRA presidency.
Morales, best known for his role on “NYPD Blue,” has asserted that the current leaders are out of touch with rank-and-file members and have left too much power in the hands of the union’s executive staff.
Ballots for the national, Los Angeles and New York elections will go out Tuesday with an Aug. 15 deadline for receipt of ballots. Besides the president and secretary-treasurer, the contests will determine most members of a new 70-seat national board along with delegates to the first SAG-AFTRA convention — where the exec VP and seven other VPs will be elected in late September.
The current rulers of SAG-AFTRA were moved into their posts last year from their elected slots at SAG and AFTRA, creating a 110-member board as part of the merger. The performers union has about 160,000 members; ballots will be sent to those who are current on their dues.
The elections are the first step toward a “permanent governance structure” with 70 board seats allotted for the 22 locals with Los Angeles having 28 seats and New York with 16. A total of 10 national officers will also serve on the SAG-AFTRA national board bringing its total size to 80.
In Los Angeles, 91 candidates are running for the 28 national board seats, along with 83 candidates for 45 local board seats and 178 for delegate slots. John Tremaine and Clyde Kasatsu are seeking the local presidency.
The most lively contests will likely take place in Los Angeles, where the revived self-styled progressives in the Membership First faction have a slate that include Martin Sheen, Joanna Cassidy, Paul Napier, George Coe and Patricia Richardson.
Notable names running in Los Angeles from the ruling Unite For Strength wing include current National VP Gabrielle Carteris, Jeff Garlin, Assaf Cohen, Stephen Collins, Marcia Wallace and Jason George.
Unite For Strength has already blasted Membership First, attacking the faction for its opposition to merger in this statement to SAG-AFTRA members: “Right now, you have an important choice to make. Would you like to see SAG-AFTRA move forward, building on its recent successes, or return to the harmful divisions which weakened performers?”
In New York, SAG-AFTRA co-president Roberta Reardon is heading the New York Coalition for Unity, seeking the local presidency and facing off against current New York president Mike Hodge, who heads the United Screen Actors Nationwide slate.
Reardon was president of AFTRA from 2007 to 2012 and became co-president when the union merged with SAG. She was a also strong advocate for the merger.
The New York Coalition includes Anne Gartlan, Holter Graham, Jim Kerr and Sue-Anne Morrow running as VPs. Notable USAN candidates include Rebecca Damon, Maureen Donnelly, Samantha Mathis and Liz Zazzi.
The New York candidates do not include current national board member Richard Masur, a powerful player in SAG politics for many years. Masur served as SAG president from 1995 to 1999.
Current SAG-AFTRA Exec VP Ned Vaughn and co-secretary-treasurer Matt Kimbrough have both opted not to run for office. Vaughn, who has been a key architect of the Unite For Strength strategy during its five years, is running for a delegate slot.
Membership First did not enter a slate in the final SAG election in 2011 after being defeated convincingly by the self-described moderates of Unite for Strength in the previous two years. Membership First currently has only a handful of reps on the 110-member board including Sheen, Ed Harris, Joe D’Angerio, David Jolliffe, Elliott Gould, Anne-Marie Johnson and Scott Bakula.
Bakula, Gould, Harris and Johnson — who ran against Howard for the presidency in 2009 — have opted not to run. Johnson is seeking a delegate slot.