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Whether LA Unified board member Tamar Galatzan runs for reelection or not, voters in her District 3 will have two other candidates to consider in the 2015 board election.
Carl Petersen, Director of Logistics for a Glendale manufacturing company, and Elizabeth Badger, owner of an auto repair company in Canoga Park, have filed to run, according to the LA City Ethics Commission.
Galatzan, who is also an assistant city attorney, has not yet filed with the commission to run for reelection.
Petersen’s candidacy represents his first run for public office.
“I’ve been thinking about it for a year,” he said in an interview, explaining that his prime motivation was encountering obstacles in his quest for help for two of his daughters with autism.
“It’s such a bureaucratic process with all the hoops they make you jump through,” he said. “There’s a feeling throughout the district that the board doesn’t listen to parents. You see it in Breakfast in the Classroom, the iPads. They have a deaf ear to parents. Parents are speaking, but the board doesn’t listen.”
Petersen, 46, said his interest in running was not necessarily in protest of Galatzan. Not initially, anyway.
“At first it was more general,” he said. “But then, I attended one of her community meetings about the budget. After listening to her, I was not impressed.”
Badger, 55, is no stranger to local politics. In April 2013, she finished fourth in a field of six for a City Council seat, winning 9.3 percent of the vote. Five months later, she placed seventh in a field of 11 in a special election for a California assembly seat, with 2.8 percent of the vote.
Her decision to run for the school board was based on experiences similar to Petersen’s.
As the mother of children with special needs, she said she grew angry and frustrated over efforts to get them support they needed in school.
“I refused to give up,” she told LA School Report, recalling months of grappling with school officials. She finally prevailed, she said, and that inspired her to seek the board seat.
“Children need an advocate, who understands them, who will fight the system for them, who will stand up to the status quo,” she said. “That’s me.”
She also said her initial motivation was not dissatisfaction with Galatzan. Rather, she said, it was an encounter with Galatzan in January when she asked if she intended to run again.
“She just told me she was thinking about it,” Badger said. “Filing for the seat started in the Fall. So it was clear to me she’s not running.”
Both candidates said they are supportive of UTLA, the teachers union, but not without limits. Petersen said he favors teacher evaluations but not solely based on standardized testing. Badger said she’s open to all approaches to education, even charters, if it helps children learn.
“I’d like to work with the union to fix problems,” Petersen said. “But blind loyalty? I wouldn’t say that. Depends on the issue; I like to look at both sides.”
Badger said, “The unions have done great work, but some of it has gone too far, especially UTLA. I’m not afraid to stand up to them. I’d love their support, but if I don’t get it, that’s fine.”
Board District 3 is now the third of LA Unified’s four districts to have a contested election next year.
In District 1, the seat held for a decade by the late Marguerite LaMotte, three people have entered the race – Daymond Johnson, Erick Morales and Rodney Robinson, and in District 5, now represented by Bennett Kayser, SEIU Local 99 President Barbara Torres has filed to run.
Only in District 7, represented by the board’s current president, Richard Vladovic, has no challenger emerged.