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Garcia leads in fundraising for L.A. school board

 LAUSD President Monica Garcia in 2012.

The early money leader in the race for seats on the Los Angeles Board of Education is school board president Monica Garcia. Financial data released Thursday show that Garcia raised $174,288 last year, far outdistancing the combined total of four challengers vying to unseat her. Garcia represents District 2, which stretches out from the city’s central core.

Three of the seven board seats will be on the ballot in the March primary election. Much is at stake in the election, including whether forces friendly or critical of the teachers union will control a majority. The financial reports, released by the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission, cover all of 2012.

In District 4, which moves northward from the Westside to the southwest San Fernando Valley, incumbent Steve Zimmer trailed in fundraising to challenger Kate Anderson. She gathered $113,050 compared with Zimmer’s $27,688.

The least money has flowed into District 6, where four candidates are bidding for an open seat. Iris Zuniga had raised $19,625, Antonio Sanchez $16,000 and Monica Ratliff $6,832. That seat represents the east San Fernando Valley.

Garcia’s filing shows support from charter school operators (Vielka McFarlane, Liza Bercovici, Marcia Aaron), Hollywood figures (David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg), philanthropists (Edythe and Eli Broad, Frank Baxter), developers (Andy Camacho) and some labor unions. Many gave the maximum $1,000, as did some of their relatives or professional associates.

Notably absent from Garcia's union support was United Teachers Los Angeles, which opposes her. UTLA does support Zimmer, the other incumbent, but had yet to throw its weight behind his campaign as of Dec. 31.

Anderson’s largest contribution was a $25,000 loan to herself. She also shared some donors with Garcia, including director Davis Guggenheim, whose documentary “Waiting for Superman” elicited a polarizing reaction from educators. It also portrayed an L.A. Unified school as vastly inferior to an independently operated charter school.

Historically, school board races lacked donation limits, but that’s no longer true, and most of the money is likely to pour in through independent expenditures not controlled by the candidates. The teachers union is expected to work this way, as is a coalition seeking to limit the union’s influence.

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-- Howard Blume

Photo: LAUSD President Monica Garcia in 2012. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

 
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