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Thirteen candidates file to run for vacant L.A. school board seat

ElectionsPoliticsLos Angeles Unified School DistrictLos Angeles Board of EducationMark Ridley-ThomasDonald Trump

Thirteen candidates are seeking spots on the ballot for a June special election to fill the Los Angeles school board seat left vacant by the death of Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte.

The deadline for candidates to file their declaration of intent passed Tuesday evening with a diverse group joining the crowded race  -- including veteran educators, parents, political aides and a reality television personality.

District 1, which stretches across a wide swath of south and southwest Los Angeles, has long been held by an African American. Black voters make up that district's largest voting bloc. They also account for a substantial amount of the district's school enrollment (28%), although most students (62%) are Latino.

Within the black community, many civic leaders pressed unsuccessfully to fill LaMotte's final 18 months with an appointee.

George McKenna, a retired senior administrator with the Los Angeles Unified School District, is running for the seat. He had been an early favorite of many who supported having the Board of Education appoint an interim member to finish LaMotte's term.

But the board ultimately decided to hold a special election.

Alex M. Johnson, an assistant senior deputy for education and public safety for L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, is in the race. Johnson is expected to benefit from the strong political base Ridley-Thomas has built in his county district, which overlaps substantially with the board district; the supervisor, however, has not yet endorsed anyone in the race.

Other candidates include former school board member Genethia Hudley-Hayes, who narrowly lost her seat to LaMotte in 2003; Sherlett Hendy Newbill, a teacher and union chapter chair at Dorsey High; and Rachel Johnson, a Gardena City Council member and a longtime L.A. Unified elementary teacher.

Omarosa O. Manigault, who gained fame after appearing on the television show "The Apprentice" with Donald Trump, has joined the race. Also running are Hattie B. McFrazier, a longtime district employee who retired in 2012; David Earle Moch; Marco P. Mendoza; Alison Noel; Marilyn Veincentotzs; Priscilla Reed; and Lady Cage-Barile.

To be placed on the ballot, candidates must return nomination papers to the city clerk by March 7 with either 1,000 signatures of registered voters in the district or 500 signatures plus payment of a fee.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Board of Education appointed Sylvia Rousseau, a former district administrator and USC professor, to oversee the seat and serve as a liaison to the board until a new member is elected.

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stephen.ceasar@latimes.com

Twitter: @stephenceasar

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