LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Two incumbent members of the Los Angeles Unified school board were poised to retake their seats Wednesday amid questions over campaign contributions from outside the city.
KNX 1070′s Pete Demetriou reports incumbents Monica Garcia and Steve Zimmer survived a bruising reelection campaign with millions in funds from non-local sources.
Garcia successfully defended her 2nd District seat against four challengers in Tuesday’s election, while Zimmer prevailed against Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa-backed Kate Anderson to retain his seat on the seven-member board.
Antonio Sanchez, a former assistant to Villaraigosa, will square off against Monica Ratliff — who enjoys widespread support from the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) — in the May runoff.
UTLA officials welcomed the runoff vote regardless of the ultimate outcome.
“Each would bring unique skills and experience to the Board of Education. Monica Ratliff is a national board certified teacher who shares UTLA’s goals of smaller class sizes and full school years,” the union said in a statement. “Antonio Sanchez has experience working with government agencies and will be a positive voice for LAUSD in Sacramento.
“He also shares UTLA’s vision for the District—safe schools and resources going directly to classrooms.”
Sanchez is also aligned with Villaraigosa’s Coalition for School Reform political action committee, which received a reported $1 million donation during the campaign from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
An estimated $4.8 million in outside spending was contributed to the three LAUSD Board races, with the UTLA spending nearly $1 million of that figure, according to contribution reports.
But LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy downplayed the influence of outside contributions, instead pointing to what he characterized as progress within the school district.
“The work to dramatically improve outcomes in student achievement continues solidly,” Deasy said.
The runoff vote is scheduled to be held May 21.