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Final candidates certified in race for L.A. Board of Education

December 13, 2010 |  6:57 pm

A much-anticipated face-off between Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the city’s teachers union began to take shape with the final certification Monday of candidates for the March school board elections. Four of the seven seats on the city’s Board of Education are up for grabs.

The current majority is allied more or less with Villaraigosa, who publicly cut longstanding ties this month with United Teachers Los Angeles, calling the union the chief obstacle to school reform in the city. The union, in turn, has defended its record.

In District 1, covering much of south and southwest Los Angeles, the union has endorsed two-term incumbent Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte. She will be opposed by civil rights advocate Eric Lee, head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles. While the mayor has yet to endorse, there’s no other candidate in this race, and Lee’s rhetoric on schools has substantially echoed the mayor’s. Lee joined the mayor last week in Compton to praise an attempt to convert a low-performing traditional school into an independently managed charter school.

In District 3, one-term incumbent Tamar Galatzan will face off a second time against Louis Pugliese, a college instructor and former charter-school board member. The mayor is expected to stick with Galatzan, although the two have sometimes clashed. The union’s previously endorsed candidate dropped out, which apparently leaves the union with the option of choosing Pugliese or sitting out this west San Fernando Valley race, saving resources for elsewhere.

District 5 has an open seat, with one-term incumbent Yolie Flores having decided not to run. The district spans Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Eagle Rock and the southeastern portions of L.A. Unified, including the cities of Huntington Park, Bell and South Gate. The person with the inside track on the mayor’s endorsement is Luis Sanchez, who is chief of staff for school board President Monica Garcia, a close Villaraigosa ally. The union is going with retired Roosevelt High teacher and union representative John Fernandez. The third candidate is teacher Bennett Kayser, who opposed Flores four years ago.

The candidates in District 7 are one-term incumbent Richard Vladovic and two previous candidates, Roy Love and Jesus Escandon. District 7 reaches from South Los Angeles to the Harbor area. Vladovic is expected to hold onto the mayor’s support. The union has endorsed Escandon.

The field has shrunk considerably since candidates first filed to run. Ten fell by the wayside because they withdrew, filed incomplete nominating petitions or turned in no petition at all.

-- Howard Blume