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Imelda Padilla scores endorsements from two former competitors in LAUSD school board bid

Sarah Favot | April 3, 2017

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Araz Parseghian has endorsed Imelda Padilla for LA Unified’s District 6 seat.

Imelda Padilla has secured endorsements from two former competitors in her bid for the LA Unified seat representing the east San Fernando Valley.

Araz Parseghian, who came in fourth out of six contenders in the March 7 primary, announced on social media Saturday he is supporting Padilla. Padilla said Monday that she also has the support of Jose Sandoval, the sixth-place finisher in the primary.

Padilla faces Kelly Gonez in the May 16 runoff election for the District 6 seat on the LA Unified school board. Gonez, a science teacher at a charter middle school in South LA, was the first-place finisher in the primary, receiving 37 percent of the votes cast, while Padilla, a community organizer, received 31 percent of the votes.

If you add the number of votes Parseghian and Sandoval received to Padilla’s vote count, it surpasses the number Gonez received by about 3,400 votes.

• Read more: LAUSD Valley seat gets the heat: Early campaign spending in runoff shifts from west side to Valley

“I feel like Imelda is a true leader that will have a voice on the board where she has that aggressive personality that’s pretty much what we need for our community here,” Parseghian said.

“She is a product of the LAUSD school system, she’s lived in the district for all her life and she’s homegrown so I think she understands a little bit more about the community,” he said.

Parseghian said he met with Padilla and Gonez and looked at the financial donors to each of their campaigns and asked the candidates if they knew the people who have given them money. He said he would expect a candidate to know the donors or at least reach out to them if they didn’t know them.

“I didn’t see that from Kelly’s side,” he said. “Imelda pretty much knew each individual by name or at least there was some kind of a tie.”

Gonez has received the endorsement and financial support from the California Charter Schools Association Advocates and other education reformers, while Padilla has the backing of the local teachers union, UTLA.

Parseghian, a loan officer and first-time school board candidate who is on the boards of the LA Valley College Foundation and the Glendale Police Foundation, said it was a difficult decision to endorse.

“There were a lot of factors in play where one had some strong suits at the federal policy level, the other one had community involvement, which at the end of the day kind of trumps the federal side of things,” Parseghian said.

Gonez worked as an education policy adviser in the Obama administration. Last week, she received the endorsement of her former boss, former U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

“He knew that I was genuine about understanding his community,” Padilla said of Parseghian’s ties to the Armenian community. During her campaign, Padilla said she supports ethnic studies being taught in LA Unified schools, which she believes should include lessons about the Armenian Genocide.

“I’m excited to have him be a partner and a new friend moving forward,” she said.

Former state Assemblywoman Patty López, who came in third in the primary receiving 12 percent of the votes, said Monday that she has not yet decided if she will endorse in the runoff.

Gwendolyn Posey, who came in fifth, did not respond to a request for comment on whether she will endorse.

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