In Partnership with 74

Did money buy electoral love in LAUSD board races? Sorta

Craig Clough | March 4, 2015

Your donation will help us produce journalism like this. Please give today.

LAUSD school board candidate Ref Rodriguez and his mother outside a polling station yesterday. (Via Twitter @DrRefRodrguez)

LAUSD school board candidate Ref Rodriguez and his mother yesterday. (Via Twitter @DrRefRodrguez)

Voters overwhelmingly voiced support yesterday to moving the LA Unified school board elections to November, which some say will increase voter turnout while others argue that it will give greater advantage to special interest groups and well-financed candidates.

With a low voter turnout and some candidates raising large sums of money, yesterday’s primary elections for LA Unified board seats is likely to do nothing more than add fuel to both sides of the argument. But did money buy voter love?

Let’s take a look at some of the numbers.

In the competitive District 3, District 5 and District 7 races, candidates raised a total of $649,556 in individual contributions through Feb. 25, according to the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission. With 62,456 votes cast in those races, that breaks down to $10.40 per vote, and that excludes the considerably larger chunk spent by outside groups.

Money played the biggest role in District 5, where challenger Ref Rodriguez and incumbent Bennett Kayser went 1-2 to head for the May 19 runoff. Kayser raised $13.35 for each of his 7,623 votes, and Rodriguez raised $15.33 for each of his 8,217.

As far as voter turnout, Rodriguez raised the most money of any candidate in any race, with $125,942.

In District 3, the top two fundraisers, incumbent Tamar Galatzan ($37,314 and 12,029 votes) and Scott Schmerelson ($31,609 and 6,136 votes) equalled $3.10 per vote for Galatzan and $5.15 for Schmerelson. They will face each other in a runoff.

Money did not necessarily equal electoral success in District 7, as challenger Lydia Gutierrez ($18,325 and 4,007 votes) forced incumbent Richard Valdovic ($108,288 and $4,554 votes) into the runoff despite raising the least in the three-way race. Gutierrez raised the equivalent of $4.57 per vote to Vladovic’s $23.77.


Read Next