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Candidate Helps Run Group That Says Homosexuality Can Be Cured

Donna Woodrum, who’s running for a spot on the San Diego Community College District’s board of trustees, lists her occupation as “NonProfit CEO” on her ballot statement. She runs the nonprofit American Culture Council, which helps refurbish homes for veterans, according to the organization’s website.

Photo credit: electwoodrum.com

Donna Woodrum, a candidate for the San Diego Community College District’s Board of Trustees, in her campaign website photo.

But Woodrum is also the secretary and IT director of Eagle Forum San Diego, an organization that includes statements on its website declaring homosexuality is a disease that can be cured, that prayer is legal in schools and that Muslims are a threat to America.

Her husband, Woody Woodrum, who ran a write-in campaign for San Diego mayor in 2012, is the group's president.

Reached by phone, Donna Woodrum said she’s primarily involved in the Eagle Forum because of her husband. She said she does “a lot of the behind the scenes things” such as securing venues for events and sending out invitations. The organization’s views, she said, “have nothing to do with my race” for the community college board.

When asked whether she shares Eagle Forum San Diego’s beliefs, and whether the group would influence her policy decisions if she’s elected, Woodrum said again, “This has nothing to do with my race.”

She said she’s focused on how the community college district spends its budget and why more money doesn’t go toward alleviating student fees.

“In the 24 years my incumbent opponent has been in office, credit student fees have gone up 600 percent,” she said. “Even with this large budget. That seems to be unfair.”

Fees at California community colleges are set by the state legislature, not the board of trustees.

Woodrum and her husband founded Eagle Forum San Diego in 2009, according to her husband’s website gopeprally.org. That same year, they received the Eagle Leaders of the Year award, according to Woodrum’s LinkedIn page. There, she describes the organization as “education-based, but they also encourage their Members and Attendees to run for office or to apply for seats on Boards and Commissions around our county” and says she works to book speakers like Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minnesota, at its events.

San Diego Community College District’s board of trustees sets policies for three community colleges, which serve about 130,000 students a year, said Jack Beresford, a district spokesman. The board makes decisions on how to spend an $865 million annual budget and sets policies on “education, budget, facilities, human resources, external relations and communications,” he said.

“They have a lot to do with where we’re growing, what direction the district takes in terms of instruction,” Beresford said.

The community college district's chancellor is tasked with carrying out the policies the board approves.

Woodrum is running against incumbent Maria Nieto Senour to represent the Community College District’s Area A, which includes University City, La Jolla, Pacific Beach, Mission Beach, Clairemont and Bay Park. They are the only two candidates in the race, which means both will advance to a citywide election in November.

Neither candidate has raised much money so far. A committee called Elect Woodrum Trustee 2014 received $1,000 from Claire Reiss of La Jolla, $500 from Dran Reese of Escondido and $100 from Frank Kacer of San Diego. Senour for Community Colleges Committee 2014 has so far received only one $235 donation from Juan Camerena of San Diego.

Woodrum said she does plan to fundraise more — “every candidate has plans for fundraising, of course,” she said — but said her plans haven’t “gelled” yet.

The Republican Party of San Diego County and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, have endorsed Woodrum, according to her campaign website. Woodrum also recently joined 52nd District congressional candidate Kirk Jorgensen, San Diego County Assessor Ernie Dronenburg and a few other Republican candidates at a teapParty gathering, according to the online news website Times of San Diego.

The Woodrums’ Eagle Forum San Diego is a chapter of a larger organization that says it “exposes the radical feminists” and opposes “the feminist goal of federally financed and regulated daycare.”

Eagle Forum San Diego’s website calls it “The Home for CONSERVATIVES Who Have No Party.” It includes pages detailing “research” on a number of topics, including:

  • Homosexuality (“The confusion about their sexual identity can last a lifetime, unless the child, when older and in control of their own decisions, decides to come out of the homosexual closet and receive treatment and help to regain their true sexual identity. Fortunately, there are many clinics which offer such treatment, with very good success rates”)
  • “Muslim threats in America” (“September 11, 2001 exposed the greatest threat to America today...and showed the liberal point of view for the most flawed, un-American position ever taught in American schools and universities.”)
  • And, prayer in schools. (“Parents, you can and you must take charge of your child’s education. If you cannot afford to home school, then run for a position on the school board, or at least go to the school board and demand that these laws be implemented.”)

When Woodrum’s husband ran a write-in campaign for mayor, San Diego CityBeat reported on his outspoken positions on homosexuality and his campaign rap (“Stand for America and the sanctity of life/Woody Woodrum For The Mayor, San Diego Get It Right”).

Lorie Hearn, executive director and editor of inewsource, a KPBS media partner, edited this story.

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