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Gardena official Johnson will vie for L.A. school board seat

Los Angeles Unified School District

Gardena City Councilwoman Rachel Johnson has joined the list of those running to replace school board member Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte, who died in December.

In Gardena, Johnson first was elected city clerk before being appointed to fill out a council term. She has since won two full terms on the council, most recently in 2011. She also has been a Los Angeles Unified elementary instructor for more than 30 years. She currently teaches kindergarten at Purche Avenue Elementary School in Gardena.

Johnson, 53, is eligible to run only because her neighborhood recently was made part of District 1 through a redistricting process. Her home had been in District 7, which is represented by board President Richard Vladovic. District 1 also stretches across broad portions of south and southwest L.A.

Her announcement comes three days after the board decided to call a special election rather than appoint a replacement to fill the remaining 18 months of LaMotte’s term. At that meeting, Johnson told the Board of Education that she initially leaned toward an election but decided that an appointment would make more sense because the district has many key decisions to make over the next several months.

“My fear is that the children of District 1 may not get their fair share, and I stand by that,” she said in an interview Friday.

But once the board chose an election, Johnson soon decided to become a candidate.

She joins a field that includes retired senior school district administrator George McKenna, former L.A. school board member Genethia Hudley-Hayes, Dorsey High teacher Sherlett Hendy Newbill and teacher and city fire Commissioner Jimmie Woods Gray.

The L.A. City Council on Friday voted to schedule the school district election for June 3. If no candidate wins a majority of the vote, the top-two finishers will vie in a runoff, probably in August. The primary for the next regular election in District 1 will follow in March 2015.

The city has estimated the school district’s cost for the special election as $973,000 for the primary and about $2.5 million total in the event of an August runoff. 

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Twitter: @howardblume | howard.blume@latimes.com

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