That’s right, $5.5 Million! And most of this money was spent by two large special interest groups, United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) and California Charter Schools Association (CCSA), who poured millions into a race for three seats. The outcome of that money dump only produced one outright winner. Monica Garcia, a school board member in District 2 since 2006, bested her opponent with more than 50% (58% at most recent count) of the vote making her the only one to be re-elected outright. The remaining two seats will go to a run off to be held May 16, 2017 (more money!).
District 4 incumbent, Steve Zimmer received only 47% of the vote, which puts him in the runoff against Nick Melvoin. In District 6, there was no incumbent which means the top two vote getters, Kelly Gonez and Imelda Padilla, will face off for that district. But all of that is not the important thing. At least it doesn’t seem like it.
So what’s the big deal? Why is all this money being thrown at these races in Los Angeles? Control. UTLA wants to control the board so that the district won’t open any more charter schools, which it views as a threat to its livelihood. Oh, you thought it was about kids? Silly us. No, it’s really not so much about kids anymore.
On the other hand, the CCSA also wants to control the board so they can continue to have a fair shot at keeping school choice alive. After this election, I would say that CCSA is winning this contest. It seems fairly obvious that voters in Los Angeles DO want to school board members who are open to school choice and reform. How does the President of the school board not get 50% of the vote? Especially with the millions that were spent on his re-election. I think it’s time UTLA woke up and smelled the school choice.
It will be interesting to see how much money is spent in the next couple of months toward the runoff. My suggestion is that after this election, we petition the state to put a limit on this type of ridiculous amount of money being spent on local school board races. It’s obscene and creates an environment where special interests and their message dominate the debate!
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