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Luis Sanchez, a top aide to L.A. school board president, will run for open seat on panel

September 9, 2010 |  2:15 pm

Luis Sanchez, a city commissioner and top aide to school board President Monica Garcia, announced plans Thursday to run for the Los Angeles Board of Education.

Sanchez, 35, is vying for the District 5 seat, hoping to succeed Yolie Flores, who previously announced she would not seek a second four-year term.

Flores’ replacement could well affect the path of future reforms in the Los Angeles Unified School District. She had emerged quickly as a prominent member of the board, pushing sometimes controversial policies, including an initiative to allow the takeover of some low-performing schools and all new schools by groups inside or outside the school system.

A win by Sanchez could consolidate the considerable influence of Garcia. Sanchez serves as her chief of staff and had managed her campaign to win a board seat. He also ran Flores’ campaign, but Flores and Garcia occasionally disagreed on board actions. Garcia’s closest political alliance has been with L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

On Thursday, Sanchez announced endorsements from Garcia, retired Rep. Esteban Torres and L.A. City Council member Jose Huizar, another Villaraigosa ally. The mayor has not yet made an endorsement but was the most crucial player in the last round of elections.

Sanchez, a recreation and parks commissioner, has a deep political base east of downtown, in part through the work of InnerCity Struggle, a local nonprofit he co-founded. It’s now led by his wife. Winning the backing of the influential teachers union could be difficult. United Teachers Los Angeles has frequently been at odds with Garcia and Flores. The powerful charter school constituency also could prove a factor in the race.

District 5 encompasses all or portions of Atwater, Silver Lake, Los Feliz, Highland Park, Mount Washington, El Sereno, City Terrace and unincorporated East Los Angeles as well as the cities of Bell, Cudahy, Huntington Park, Maywood, South Gate and Vernon.

Board elections will take place in March for four seats on the seven-person governing board. The incumbents in the other seats with March balloting are Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte, Tamar Galatzan and Richard Vladovic.

-- Howard Blume

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