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Alex Johnson shows clout at LAUSD campaign kickoff

LA School Report | March 11, 2014

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Mark Ridley-Thomas (left), Alex Johnson

Mark Ridley-Thomas (left), Alex Johnson

LA Unified school board hopeful Alex Johnson kicked off his campaign last night at a west side home, filled with elected officials, education advocates and political funders.

“We’ve waited long enough.” Johnson told the room of supporters. “We can’t leave a generation of kids behind… every child should have an opportunity to succeed, to graduate from high school, to get a job.”

He noted that the open seat in District 1, which covers much of south Los Angeles, has the “highest number of kids being pushed out of school… the highest rate of foster youth of our schools, the second second lowest graduation rate, [the] highest concentration of poverty,” in the district.

Johnson, who serves as education aide to Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas qualified for the ballot last Friday. He is competing in an usually packed field of nine candidates (two of whom are awaiting certification from the City Clerk’s office) in a June 3 special election after longtime school board trustee Marguerite LaMotte died in office late last year.

In his remarks to the crowd, Johnson made no mention his accusations against one of his opponents, Genethia Hudley-Hayes, whom he has accused of falsifying her resume. Hudley-Hayes, who once held the District 1 seat and has the support of former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Congresswoman Karen Bass, has denied any intentional misrepresentations (more on that story here) and has accused Johnson of “bullying” her to drop out of the race.

In addition to co-hosts Ridley-Thomas, Carol Biondi, and former mayoral candidate Austin Beutner, there were plenty of familiar political faces in the room. Former congresswoman Diane Watson, retired LA County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, and Congresswoman Janice Hahn stood listening to Johnson as he spoke about his background and his views on education.
Biondi, an advocate for juvenile justice who has served on the LA County Commission for Children and Families for more than a decade, said working with Johnson “wowed” her.  “He works so well with every partner that the county has,” she said.  “I have seen how much he can get accomplished in the quietest, most intelligent manner.”
She told LA School Report she was surprised at the high turnout for the fundraising event, with responses doubling last minute to about 100 attendees.
“I’m a product of District 1” Johnson said. “I’m the son of a public school teacher and a truck driver who invested in me. Now it’s my time to invest in future of these kids”.
Among the other contenders, longtime LAUSD administrator George McKenna has the support of Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Council member Bernard Parks and retired Council member Jan Perry.

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