USAN SAG Faction Announces NY Candidates

Among the candidates on the pro-merger group’s slate is comedian and "Daily Show" contributor Lewis Black. Meanwhile, WGA West announces final candidate list, with little change from initial list.

United Screen Actors Nationwide, the pro-merger party that holds sway over the Screen Actors Guild's New York boardroom, on Tuesday announced its slate of 11 candidates for upcoming SAG board and officer elections. The party also endorsed current New York president Mike Hodge in his bid for re-election to that post.

"N.Y. president Mike Hodge and the USAN team are the right choice for New York members who want one union now," SAG president Ken Howard said in a statement. "Under USAN's leadership, SAG renewed and strengthened our historic partnership with AFTRA, and in just a few months we'll be making our most crucial decision ever about our future as one union."

USAN has long backed a merger between SAG and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and backed the Los Angeles–based Howard's pro-merger candidacy for national president in 2009. SAG and AFTRA are currently engaged in work to produce a plan for merger. Leaders in both unions intend that a finished proposal will be sent to members for ratification sometime early next year.

"What New York performers need more than anything is for SAG and AFTRA to become one powerful national union—and they can trust USAN to achieve it," Hodge said in the announcement.

Among the candidates seeking election is Lewis Black, best known for his caustic "Back in Black" commentaries on "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" and for his equally impassioned standup routines, which he has performed in multiple specials for Comedy Central and HBO. He hosted the former Comedy Central series "Lewis Black's Root of All Evil."

"I'm running with USAN for a simple reason: They are committed to uniting SAG and AFTRA, and I want to help them make it happen," the comic said in a statement.

Other USAN candidates seeking board positions are Manny Alfaro, Dave Bachman, Marc Baron, Marc Blum, Rebecca Damon, Traci Godfrey, Ezra Knight, Jay Potter, Jon Rothman, and Kevin Scullin. USAN also endorsed Howard's re-election bid as national president and Amy Aquino's re-election bid as national secretary-treasurer.

Howard and Aquino were previously selected by SAG’s national nominating committee for second terms. Board candidates and additional officer candidates had until last Thursday to submit nominating petitions. The guild has not announced the list of qualifying candidates, but, based on past practice, is likely to do so next week.

Howard and Aquino are part of the Hollywood-based Unite for Strength faction, which is strongly pro-merger. Their opponents, the anti-merger MembershipFirst, have not announced any candidates (nor has UFS announced its board candidates). Independent David Hillberg, who’s somewhat skeptical of merger, is reportedly running for president.

In separate union election news, the WGA West last week announced the final slate of candidates for the 2011-2013 WGAW Officers and Board of Directors election. The list includes all of the candidates on the initial list (determined by the guild’s nominating committees) that was announced last month, plus one board candidate nominated by petition.

The officer candidates are as follows: President – Patric M. Verrone, Christopher Keyser; Vice President – Howard A. Rodman, John Aboud; Secretary-Treasurer – David N. Weiss (inc.), Carl Gottlieb. The current president, writer-producer John Wells, is not seeking another term.

Verrone was president of the WGA West from 2005-2009 and organized and presided over the WGA’s 2007-2008 strike.

There are 18 candidates nominated to run for eight open seats on the guild’s board: Anthony Sparks, Billy Ray (inc.), Jay Kogen, Thania St. John, Michael Oates Palmer, David S. Goyer, Nelson Soler, Alfredo Barrios, Jr., Jeff Lowell (by petition), Ian Deitchman (inc.), Carleton Eastlake (inc.), Barbara E. Nance, Ari B. Rubin, John Brancato, Linda Burstyn (inc.), Mark Alton Brown, Nell Scovell, Dan Wilcox (inc.).

WGAW rules require candidates to be announced in an order determined by lot; (inc.) denotes an incumbent candidate.

The WGAW will host its annual Candidates Night town-hall forum, at which Guild members may meet and pose questions to officer and board candidates, on Wednesday, August 31, at WGAW headquarters.

Guild members will receive candidate, non-candidate, and rebuttal statements, if any, with their ballots prior to the election. Candidates may mail additional campaign materials at their own expense. Members may vote by mail or in person at the WGAW’s annual membership meeting on Thursday, September 15. Ballots will be counted on Friday, September 16.

In New York, as previously reported, the WGA East announced its officer and Council candidates; two-term president Michael Winship is running unopposed for reelection.

Also as previously reported, AFTRA convention delegates reelected actor Roberta Reardon on Saturday night by unanimous acclamation to a third two-year term as national president. Most of the other national officers were also reelected.

Last month, the DGA re-elected Taylor Hackford to a second term as president by acclamation at the Guild’s National Biennial Convention. Steven Soderbergh was re-elected national vice president; Gilbert Cates, who formerly served two terms as president, was re-elected secretary-treasurer. Other officers and board members were elected as well.

Twitter: @jhandel