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For Badger, the campaign to win an LAUSD board seat is personal

Vanessa Romo | January 26, 2015

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Elizabeth Badger

Elizabeth Badger

This is the next in a series of profiles on candidates running in the March 3 primary for the LA Unified school board. Today’s focus is Elizabeth Badger, a candidate for the District 3 seat.


For Elizabeth Badger the race for LA Unified’s School Board District 3 seat is personal.

“I’m angry and fed up and I want to do something about it,” she told LA School Report, explaining what pushed her into the crowded race to represent most of the San Fernando Valley.

Badger’s two youngest children — a son in 8th grade and a daughter in 5th — were both diagnosed with autism and ADHD, and they require special education. But getting them the right classes with the right kind of support was a Sisyphean process, she says.

It began with her oldest. “I wanted to keep my son in a traditional public school so I had to learn the system completely on my own to advocate for him because he was being treated so badly where he was,” she said. After years of struggle, he’s now “blossomed” with a 3.75 grade point average that delights Badger to no end.

But it was a long slog, and it wasn’t cheap, she said. She ended up suing the district twice.

“I just don’t think parents should have to fight that hard,” she said.

Badger is now taking the fight into District 3, the most widely-contested of the four seats with elections this year. Tamar Galatzan is the incumbent, and Badger is one of five challengers.

This is Badger’s third run at a public office in less than two years. In April 2013, he 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.

In this race, Galatzan has been endorsed by education reform advocates with deep pockets while Badger remains largely self-financed as she scrambles for campaign support. Most of the $12,000 she has raised has come through personal loans. And an endorsements by the teachers union, UTLA, or SEIU Local 99, which represents about 30,000 LA Unified employees, are unlikely.

Although she’s not familiar with the specific terms currently under negotiation between the district and the teachers union, Badger said she supports a substantial raise for teachers, effective immediately, saying “they’ve sacrificed a lot for our kids.” As the CEO and founder of the Minority Outreach Committee, a non-profit community group that hosts panels on economic development in the San Fernando Valley, she argues that she would be an asset in the negotiations.

Badger is relying on voters who are disappointed in Galatzan, especially those who are upset over the district’s controversial one-to-one iPad program, which Galatzan supported.

“There are a lot of people in the Valley who are mad about that waste of money,” she said, adding a prediction that they are not likely to re-elect Galatzan after the public debacle.

“I just need them to think of me,” she said.

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