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Union bets big on Marshall High teacher

February 24, 2009 |  5:32 pm

Election_sig In nearly every school board election, the teachers union at the Los Angeles Unified School District offers a last-minute avalanche of financial support for its preferred candidates. In the March 3 election, the big beneficiary appears to be Marshall High School teacher Steve Zimmer.

In the last week, United Teachers Los Angeles has spent more than $204,000 in support of Zimmer, who is seeking to replace departing school board member Marlene Canter in a district stretching from Westchester to Hollywood, according to reports with the city’s Ethics Commission.

Zimmer is running against Mike Stryer, a Fairfax High School teacher who lives in Pacific Palisades. Stryer has raised nearly $72,000, while Zimmer has raised more than $58,000 –- a total that does not include the teachers union money.

Under Measure L, a ballot measure that passed two years ago, school board candidates cannot receive more than $1,000 from a single contributor during each election cycle. However, that law does not prevent special interests from pouring thousands of dollars into “independent expenditures” –- money that the candidate does not control –- as well as communications between union leaders and union members.

The teachers union has put its money toward polling, phone banking and three glossy mailers promoting Zimmer. UTLA also has spent nearly $26,000 in the other school board race, putting that sum toward San Fernando City Councilwoman Nury Martinez. She faces educator Louis Pugliese in the race to replace school board member Julie Korenstein.

Stryer has loaned his campaign $30,000, while Pugliese has provided his campaign $20,200, according to the Ethics Commission website.

Click here for more information about the election.

-- David Zahniser