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LA’s school board members endorse candidates, but not necessarily each other

Mike Szymanski | March 2, 2017

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The seven LA Unified school board members are often at odds — even though they come together unanimously for votes like picking the new superintendent.

But they’re not in unison for any of the school board races, or even necessarily for their fellow board members’ reelection.

LA School Report polled all seven of the school board members and asked them for their endorsements in the March 7 election, including whether they would weigh in on the Los Angeles City Council race where their fellow board member Mónica Ratliff is running.

Six of the seven school board members are endorsing Ratliff in her run for City Council District 7 against 19 others in that race in the northeast San Fernando Valley. All except Mónica García.

“I’m just concentrating on my own race,” said García, who is running for re-election against two others in District 2. “That is keeping me busy.”

García, a former president of the school board, is seen as a pro-charter advocate, and her only endorsement from a fellow board member is by Ref Rodriguez, who co-founded a charter management organization.

Rodriguez held a fundraiser for García, and he also attended a fundraiser for Ratliff for the City Council seat. He is also endorsing Kelly Gonez for Ratliff’s vacated seat in District 6 and has no endorsement in District 4, where board President Steve Zimmer is running for reelection.

García said she is endorsing the reelection of City Council member Mitch O’Farrell in Council District 13 “because he asked me for his support,” she said.

Although the five other board members weighed in on other school board races, none of them mentioned García’s District 2 race.

“I’m not surprised no one else endorsed me,” García said.

Ratliff, Richard Vladovic, George McKenna, and Scott Schmerelson all threw their support to Zimmer in the hotly contested District 4 race where he faces three challengers.

“I endorse Steve Zimmer because I worked with him closely both in public and in closed sessions and I know that he is a fantastic representative of kids and families,” Ratliff said. “He worked on getting the art equity index and also is extremely concerned about the underfunding of the district.”

Schmerelson, who unseated pro-charter incumbent Tamar Galatzan in the last election, also supported Zimmer, saying, “As a fellow educator, I am proud to endorse Steve Zimmer for reelection. I have followed Steve’s dedication to our children and to the stability of LAUSD since he was first elected and I would watch board meetings on TV every Sunday morning. Now we have been colleagues for almost two years and I have nothing but respect for Steve’s passion, integrity, and commitment to our students, families and school communities.”

Vladovic also endorsed Zimmer and said, “It would be hard to imagine the school board without him. He truly cares about kids and the future of the district.” Vladovic said he would wait to make an endorsement in the District 6 race.

Imelda Padilla in District 6 won endorsements from Zimmer, Schmerelson, and McKenna, but Ratliff, who is vacating the post, has not weighed in on that race even though she encouraged Padilla to run for office.

McKenna has also endorsed Dallas Fowler for Community College District 4.

The primary is Tuesday. If no single candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, then the top two candidates face a May 16 runoff.

LA School Report covers the 2017 LAUSD school board race: See all 13 candidate profiles

* UPDATE: Corrects an endorsement by Richard Vladovic.

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