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Preview: Little-Known Candidates Debut at District 6 Forum

Hillel Aron | January 31, 2013

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Now whittled down to three candidates — Maria Cano, Antonio Sanchez, and Monica Ratliff  — the race for the East Valley’s District 6 features a cast of relative unknowns endorsed by the teachers union.

Left to right: Cano, Sanchez, Ratliff

However, one of them — newcomer Antonio Sanchez — is the front-runner by virtue of the additional endorsements and independent expenditure (IE) committees that have lined up behind him.

“We might be the only ones to have a campaign,” says campaign consultant Mike Shimpcock. “It’s not like any of the other candidates stand out.”

Sanchez’s opponents — Maria Cano and Monica Ratliff — would surely beg to differ, but they did not return our requests for comment.

The three will have their first real chance to introduce themselves to the public at tonight’s candidate forum, which will take place at 5:30 PM at the Boys and Girls Club of San Fernando Valley in Pacoima (see flyer here).

If Sanchez make a positive impression tonight — without alienating his delicate coalition of supporters  — he could very well win enough votes to avoid a runoff.

District 6 is the only School Board race this year without an incumbent.  It’s also the only race in which the candidates are all complete unknowns.

A month ago, the field of candidates running for District 6 looked like it was going to be a crowded one, with as many as 10 candidates. But, after a series of withdrawals including Iris Zuniga and Ernie Cardenas, there are only three candidates left in the race.

The teachers union endorsement is currently split amongst all three candidates. (A widely-rumored attempt to change or narrow the UTLA endorsements during last night’s House of Representatives meeting did not pan out.)

What makes Sanchez stand out is that he’s been endorsed by the Democratic Party and already has IE committees including the LA County Federation of Labor, SEIU and the Coalition for School Reform spending money on his behalf.

Given these advantages, there’s a real possibility that Sanchez could win more than 50 percent of the vote and the District 6 race could be decided on March 5 without requiring a runoff.

But, as Sanchez’s consultant Shimpock notes, “School board races are always low-information races. There’s always a possibility of something happening that makes them more competitive than they should be.”

Previous posts: Westside Forum: Charters, Evaluation, DeasyPreview: Westside School Board ForumJan. 24 Kickoff for United Way Candidate EventsMeet District 6 Candidate Maria Cano

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