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Days before Marguerite LaMotte died last December at the age of 80, Daymond Johnson, a school safety officer and consultant, filed papers with the City Ethics Commission to run for her LA Unified District 1 board seat when her term expired in 2015.
Whether she intended to seek reelection or not, his rationale was to infuse the board with some youth — he was 32 at the time — and maybe some fresh ideas.
Now, Johnson finds himself in an awkward spot.
After George McKenna’s name arose as a community favorite to serve out LaMotte’s term, Johnson became a McKenna supporter.
“I felt it was very important to support him because the community asked him to run,” Johnson said in an interview this week. “That was different to me from politicians’ asking someone to run.”
So Johnson was happy this week when McKenna, 73, finally claimed the seat in a runoff election, defeating Alex Johnson, 34, to serve out LaMotte’s term through next year.
But that has left Daymond Johnson with a difficult balance — still feeling a need to bring some youth to the LA Unified board, but willing to give McKenna a chance.
So where does that leave his candidacy? In tact, for the time being.
“I’ve already started reaching for (campaign) dollars,” Johnson said. “But if Dr. McKenna is doing what the community wants him to do, sometime down the road I might be willing to back out of the race.”
When might that be?
“I’ll definitely give him to November or December,” he said. “If McKenna is doing what students need, I’ll support him.”
Of course, the political landscape is always changing. McKenna might run for reelection or he might not. Alex Johnson might try again. Other candidates might emerge. The primary for District 1 — as well as for Districts 3,5 and 7 — is in March.
That’s seven months away – but an eternity in LA Unified.