Melissa Gilbert elected Screen Actors Guild president, beating Valerie Harper in election rerun - - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - |

Melissa Gilbert elected Screen Actors Guild president, beating Valerie Harper in election rerun


LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Melissa Gilbert was elected president of the Screen Actors Guild in a retake of a vote that had been thrown out by union officials after questions about procedures in the first round of balloting.

Following a bitter election campaign, Gilbert garnered 21,351 votes, or 57 percent, to challenger Valerie Harper's 12,613, or 34 percent, a SAG spokeswoman said Saturday.

``I'm honored to have been trusted by the SAG membership,'' Gilbert said in a prepared statement. ``With the re-run of the election now behind us, I welcome focusing on the crucial issues at hand.''

In the results announced in November, ``Little House on the Prairie'' star Gilbert, 37, also defeated Harper, 61, of ``Rhoda'' fame. In that round of voting, Gilbert received 45 percent of the vote to Harper's 39 percent.

``I want to sincerely thank everyone who supported my candidacy,'' Harper said in a statement. ``In this election, re-run in a fair and uniform manner, the real winner is the democratic process.''

Harper thanked those who participated in the vote. ``As a member of the SAG board of directors, I look forward to immediately focusing on the crucial issues facing the membership,'' she said.

Also seeking the top post were Eugene Boggs, who gained 2,178 votes according to Saturday's results, and Angeltompkins, who got 1,010 votes.

Kent McCord, who was elected treasurer in November, was re-elected, defeating Amy Aquino and Kathleen Haigney. Elliott Gould was elected recording secretary, outpolling Kevin Kilner and Renee Aubry.

According to SAG, 41.4 percent of those eligible to participate in the election cast ballots. That's the highest turnout ever, eclipsing the previous high of 34 percent, when Patty Duke won the presidency in 1985.

A company called American Arbitration Association was retained to oversee the mailing, collection and tabulation of ballots, said SAG spokeswoman Ilyanne Morden Kichaven.

The company was hired after a guild national elections committee decided in January that administrative problems in the voting process may have affected the outcome of some or all of the elections.

The committee voted unanimously that the election for the positions of president, treasurer and secretary be rerun, but the results of the 12 vice presidents and the national board seats remained official.

The guild represents more than 98,000 movie and television performers nationally.

The elections committee criticized polling administrator Sequoia Voting Systems and top SAG executives for rule violations. Some of the problems included a two-day extension for New York members to mail in their ballots.

``It is regrettably the case that all those who ran for office were the innocent victims of these two groups, namely SAG staff and Sequoia representatives,'' the panel said.

Gilbert remained SAG president pending the results of the new election, which was marked by an intense e-mailing campaign and vitriolic war of words.

The Harper-Gilbert contest came at a tense time, in the aftermath of a lengthy commercial actors' strike and an averted walkout by movie and TV actors under one-term SAG President William Daniels, who acted in TV shows ``St. Elsewhere,'' and ``Boy Meets World''.

The strike against commercial producers cost actors millions of dollars and the Los Angeles area at least $125 million in lost production as it drove commercial work abroad.

Harper supported Daniels and his record. Gilbert was critical of the union's direction and called for change. The candidates also differed over a proposed pact with talent agents, which Gilbert supports and Harper opposes.
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