L.A. school board election: Zimmer maintains slim lead
As results in the Los Angeles school board election continued to be tabulated early Wednesday, two-term incumbent Monica Garcia held a strong lead in District 2, one-term incumbent Steve Zimmer maintained his slim lead in District 4 and Antonio Sanchez captured the most votes in the race for District 6 -- but he could be headed for a runoff.
The school board race attracted national money and attention, becoming a battle over the reform policies of Supt. John Deasy.
In the most expensive battle, Zimmer garnered the support of the teachers union and other employee unions against parent and attorney Kate Anderson, who is backed by the Coalition for School Reform, a political action committee spearheaded by L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
The coalition amassed a war chest that surpassed $3.8 million in support of candidates considered Deasy allies: Garcia, Anderson and Sanchez.
Donations to the coalition included $1 million from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg; $300,000 from the California Charter Schools Assn.; $250,000 from StudentsFirst, the advocacy group headed by former District of Columbia schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee; and $250,000 from a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.
Campaign committees affiliated with United Teachers Los Angeles, the local teachers union, spent close to $1 million, according to the city Ethics Commission. This included $150,000 from the American Federation of Teachers.
In a statement, the local teachers union said that Zimmer’s lead shows that voters were not swayed by “outsiders and their millions.”
“School board seats are not for sale,” the union said in the statement.
In the east San Fernando Valley, Monica Ratliff, a former attorney who became a teacher, continued to trail Sanchez. The early results, however, showed the two could be headed for a May 21 runoff.
In the race for three Los Angles community college district seats, Mike Eng, a former Monterey Park Democratic assemblyman, held a lead for Seat 2 and former East Los Angeles College president Ernest Henry Moreno received the most votes for Seat 4.
Nancy Pearlman, a trustee since 2001, appeared to be headed for a runoff in her bid to retain Seat 6.
The nine-campus Los Angeles district is the nation's largest, with an overall annual budget of $3.5 billion and 240,000 students.
Photo: Steve Zimmer speaks to supporters at an election-night party in Los Angeles. Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times