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Recount in Close Race Is Demanded : Education: Lucia Rivera is challenging David Tokofsky’s 72-vote margin of victory in school board election. Results may be known by July 6.

TIMES EDUCATION WRITER

The loser in one of Los Angeles’ closest-ever local elections demanded a recount Wednesday, saying she was motivated by the enthusiasm of her supporters.

Candidate Lucia Rivera, a parent liaison, had previously indicated her intent to challenge the election after losing a Los Angeles Unified Board of Education seat by 72 votes to high school teacher David Tokofsky.

“She wasn’t going to just do this for her own ego,” Rivera’s former campaign manager, Lloyd Monserratt, said of the recount. “She really left it up to the people who called the day after the election to decide.”

Rivera had to pay nearly $12,900 for the recount in the Eastside/San Fernando Valley race, money that will allow city election workers to examine each of the 22,000 ballots by hand. Monserratt said Rivera had raised half of that money at an Olvera Street reception held last week.

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Tokofsky, who had begun cleaning out his classroom Wednesday at Marshall High School in anticipation of taking office Saturday, said he was surprised and disappointed by Rivera’s decision. Election officials said Tokofsky could still begin his term as planned until results of the recount are known, perhaps as early as July 6.

“Hopefully, we’ll still come out on top,” Tokofsky said.

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If Rivera wins, the process could drag on beyond next week while Tokofsky decides whether to launch his own recount. Either side could appeal those results to the courts.

Election challenges are common in close races and sometimes do change outcomes. In one of the most dramatic recent school board examples, Chino Unified incumbent Dona Silva lost her seat in November, 1993, by one vote, then regained it during the courtroom opening of an unsigned ballot.

The Los Angeles Unified race was particularly hard-fought, pitting the United Teachers-Los Angeles union--which backed Tokofsky--against unions and organizations representing school administrators and other school employees.

In addition, Rivera was endorsed by most of the region’s Latino politicians, who wanted the seat to remain with a Latino after board member Leticia Quezada decided to step down. Tokofsky is white, and both candidates speak Spanish.

When the election results became public last week, some Latino politicos said they regretted not spending more time and money on Rivera’s race, which many had expected her to win easily after a significant primary lead.


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