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L.A. school board race donations: a calm before expected storm

The race for campaign money among candidates for the Los Angeles Board of Education would suggest a sleepy, low-stakes election, but appearances are deceiving: An electoral shootout is still expected between the city’s teachers union and L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in the March 8 election.

The latest filings, which were due last week, cover the last quarter of 2010. Four of seven school-board seats are up for grabs in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

As of year-end, the most money has accumulated in District 5, where one-term incumbent Yolie Flores is not running for reelection. Luis Sanchez raised about $80,000 trying to establish himself as the frontrunner. Most observers expect he’ll claim the endorsement of Villaraigosa and the campaign funds that come with that. The mayor is vying to maintain a friendly majority on the seven-member school board. Sanchez is currently chief of staff to school board President Monica Garcia, the mayor’s closest ally on the board.

Bennett Kayser, a teacher, raised $1,900, more than half that amount a loan from himself. John Fernandez, a retired teacher, recorded no fundraising — not one dollar. But that picture will alter because he’s the endorsed candidate of United Teachers Los Angeles, the teachers union.

District 5 spans Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Eagle Rock and the southeastern portions of the L.A. Unified School District, including the cities of Huntington Park, Bell and South Gate.

A rules change in this election cycle will affect how money is donated and controlled. For the first time, donors to candidates will be limited to $1,000 contributions, said David Tristan, deputy director of the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission.

The big money in this race is likely to come from independent expenditures — again with the teachers union and its allies pitted against the mayor and his allies. Before it's over, hotly contested campaigns could easily exceed a million dollars in spending.

To wit, in District 7, candidate Jesus Escandon reported raising $59 in the last quarter, but the union has endorsed Escandon and is expected to make a run at unseating one-term incumbent Richard Vladovic, a mayoral ally. Vladovic raised $50,676 in the last quarter of 2010.

A third candidate, Roye Love, has loaned himself $1,000 toward his campaign.

The union also is backing District 1 two-term incumbent Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte, who raised $3,200 in the last quarter and reported having just $170 cash on hand. Challenger Eric Lee raised $7,943.

District 1 covers substantial portions of south and southwest Los Angeles.

District 3 stretches roughly across the western half of the San Fernando Valley. There, one-term incumbent Tamar Galatzan reported raising $25,246. Challenger Louis Pugliese had no fundraising to report.


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-- Howard Blume

Comments () | Archives (4)

remember, the teachers union is spending this money "for the kids", not so they continue to have lifetime employment with zero accountability.

The public does not learn about the candidates and their experience in education as the media does not cover the school board races much. The briefs mentions of the school board races in the paper ... are NOT read by most people. The sad thing is that the candidates with the most money for mailings of political postcards and brochures gets their name in front of the voters and wins the elections regardless of their experience in education.

The LA-32 Neighborhood Council and the Voice community newspaper have organized a candidate forum for the School Board District 5 Candidates - for the public to learn about the candidates, their experience, and views.

Date: Thursday, February 17, 2010
Where: El Sereno Senior Citizen Center
Time: 6pm to 9pm

The School Board District 5 candidate forum will be preceded by the a City Council District 14 candidate forum.

All are welcome. Feel free to email with any questions or information: voicepub@gmail.com

I think Tamar Galatzan has done a superb job pushing reform on the school board. Hopefully people will remember that come election time.

I really don't know any of those people,I think I'm in the majority on that. My take on it is that I want these people to be pushing and really thinking on how they can improve education in these sections of LA because its not easy and if we can get some positive progress in that area it will have a positive domino effect for the East LA and surrounding eastside areas.


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