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Possible Board Candidates: District 6

Hillel Aron | September 24, 2012

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District 6 is an open seat, as current board member Nury Martinez is leaving the school board to run for City Council.

Iris Zuniga, Possible Board Candidate

Both UTLA and the education reform community are likely to pick candidates and dump money into independent expenditure campaigns supporting them. But who will they pick?

One possible candidate for ed reformers in District 6 is Iris Zuniga (pictured), the Chief Operating Officer of Youth Policy Institute, a large charter school operator. Its Executive Director, Dixon Slingerland, is very active in LAUSD politics, and YPI employees contribute a lot of money to local elections, according to the City Ethics Commission’s website.

Whoever runs will have to navigate the tricky terrain of Northeast Valley politics. covering the northeast San Fernando Valley, a region dominated by two political cliques.

Two Democratic machines feud openly, one led by City Councilman Richard Alarcon and the other led by State Senator Alex Padilla, State Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes and City Councilman (and likely future Congressman) Tony Cardenas.
And so the trick here, for school reformers, is to find a candidate that is somehow acceptable to both factions. Otherwise, UTLA will pick a candidate from the other faction, and the race would be extremely close, according to a couple of political insiders I spoke with.
Another trick reformers might try would be to choose a candidate wh would get the SEIU local 99 on board. The SEIU, which represents classified public school employees like cafeteria workers, has been a kind of swing union in the last few school board races. However, the SEIU may be looking to unionize charter school employees in the future, an idea that may not sit well with charter school operators, who make up a big part of the reform community in LA.

Last but not least, one of the big open questions here is what will Nury Martinez do? Will she try and hand-pick a successor*? Some think that to do so would risk distracting her from her City Council race, since it could anger certain interest groups or factions.

Zuniga did not respond to my request for comment about her possible candidacy.

A second possibility sources mentioned is Alma Martinez, who currently works in the city attorney’s office**.  She also has a 4-year-old in pre school. More about her to come.

*Note: A previous version of this sentence included the clause, “like Yolie Flores tried to do with Luis Sanchez.” Upon further consideration, it’s not clear that Sanchez was Flores’ handpicked successor, although some people allege that that was the case.

** A previous version of this post linked to the profile of a different Alma Martinez

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