Insurance agent Mike Hernandez, one of two likely favorites in the race for the Eastside Los Angeles school board seat held by Larry Gonzalez, said Wednesday that he has withdrawn as a candidate.
Hernandez, who was an unsuccessful candidate last year for an Eastside Assembly seat, and Los Angeles Community College Trustee Leticia Quezada were considered the strongest contenders among the five candidates who filed for the office last month.
The seat is open because incumbent Gonzalez chose not to run for reelection in order to concentrate on his campaign for the newly drawn 1st District City Council seat. Gonzalez lost to Gloria Molina in a special election held Feb. 3.
The race between Hernandez and Quezada had set up what promised to be another chapter in a continuing struggle for political power on the Eastside between rival Latino factions, one led by Molina and the other by City Councilman Richard Alatorre.
But Hernandez, who is a Molina confidante, said Wednesday that he decided to drop out of the school board race in order to concentrate on finding an appropriate state post to run for. He also said that because his children attend private school outside of the area, he would find it difficult to explain to other parents why his children are "not part of (the Los Angeles school) system."
This, he said, would have made it "hard to explain the realities of overcrowding and busing" to Eastside parents whose neighborhood schools are, for the most part, running out of classroom space and must bus students to distant schools with more room.