A Quiet School Board Race?
For the first time in three elections, it appears there will be no contentious and expensive face-off next year for control of the Los Angeles Board of Education.
Two of the three board members up for reelection did not have opponents until shortly before the Saturday filing deadline, and neither of the last-minute filers was supported by the two organizations that long have battled for control of the school board.
Other Los Angeles offices to be contested in March are mayor, city attorney, controller, eight City Council seats and three community college trusteeships.
In all, 79 candidates have filed declarations since Monday for 16 offices.
The most heated of those races is for mayor. James K. Hahn faces four major challengers -- all of whom had announced their plans earlier -- and 15 others. The fields in some races will most likely narrow, as candidates must file nominating petitions with at least 500 voter signatures by Dec. 8 to make it onto the March 8 ballot.
Another hot contest is shaping up in the race to succeed 11th District Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski, who is barred from seeking reelection because of term limits. The Westside district is the only council race that will not have an incumbent on the ballot.
In the school board races, incumbent Julie Korenstein will run unopposed. Board President Jose Huizar could face Manuel Aldana Jr., an electrician-package sorter who ran unsuccessfully as a Republican against Assemblyman Fabian Nunez (D-Los Angeles) in 2002 and 2004, garnering only a small percentage of the vote each time. Huizar represents portions of central and the Eastside.
Incumbent Marlene Canter will face Breck Charles-White, who identified himself in his filing papers as an educator and earlier in the week had filed to run for a community college board seat. Saturday, he changed his filing in order to face Canter, who represents the Westside and part of the San Fernando Valley.
The balance of power on the school board has shifted dramatically back and forth in recent years, as United Teachers Los Angeles and a civic organization supported by former Mayor Richard Riordan, who is now California’s education secretary, and billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad jostled for control of the seven-person board.
But the Riordan-Broad group, called the Coalition for Kids, effectively disbanded last year and the union, United Teachers Los Angeles, does not have as much money to spend on political races as it did in the past.
The Coalition for Kids spent nearly $2 million in 1999, and three of the candidates it backed won election. That removed some of the teachers union’s sway over district administration and eventually led to the hiring of former Colorado Gov. Roy Romer as superintendent in 2000.
But in the 2003 election, a resurgent United Teachers Los Angeles was able to come up with more money than it spent in 1999 and three candidates it supported defeated coalition-backed opponents, including two incumbents.
The union has backed Korenstein, a former teacher, since her first election to the school board in 1987. Huizar received backing from both the union and the coalition when he was first elected to the board in 2001, and the teachers union pushed for him to become board president last year.
Canter was endorsed by Riordan in 2001, but only after qualifying for a runoff against incumbent Valerie Fields. Canter raised more than $2.7 million, lending herself much of the money, in what turned out to be the most expensive campaign in L.A. school board history. She had made millions of dollars when she sold her teacher-training company in 1998.
On Saturday, union President John Perez said he did not know Charles-White, Canter’s opponent. He said the union had considered mounting a candidate against Canter for the 2005 election but could not match the money it feared Canter would raise. The union has already endorsed Huizar and Korenstein.
“If you don’t have money, it’s very difficult to mount a campaign,” Perez said.
In the mayoral race, Hahn’s most serious challengers are state Sen Richard Alarcon (D-Sun Valley), former Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg and City Councilmen Bernard Parks and Antonio Villaraigosa.
(The professions listed for most of the candidates are taken from their filing papers.)
Others who have filed for mayor are state worker Martin Luther King Aubrey Sr.; Dr. Hector Beltran; information management director Jose Bonilla; filmmaker Stephen Brown; newspaper publisher Ted Crisell; businessman Bruce Harry Darian; Michael Hirt, whose listed profession is under review by election officials; media relations specialist Mitchell Jackson; baker Sage Jones; constitutional advocate Leonard Lenox; meatpacker Wendy Lyons; senior citizen advocate Addie M. Miller; business trial lawyer Walter Moore; retired bus driver James L. Thompson; and businessman Bill Wyatt.
The only candidate filing to challenge City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo was attorney Etan Z. Lorant, who has represented a number of L.A. police officers in corruption-related trials.
City Controller Laura Chick has one potential challenger, author/management consultant Mervin Leon Evans, who has unsuccessfully run for several offices.
In the council races, only Alex Padilla of the 7th District and Eric Garcetti of the 13th District face no challengers. Eight of the 15 council seats will be filled next spring.
The most crowded field for the council is the 9th District, where papers have been filed by incumbent Jan Perry; talk show host Sky Anderson; historical preservationist KCM Curry; community activist Bella De Soto; children’s social worker Annette Jeffries; educator Edward “Eddie” Reyes; building inspector Omar Cassim Spry; Los Angeles Police Officer Peter Torres; and Sylvia Lynn Hawkins, who is unemployed.
In the 1st District, Councilman Ed Reyes could face auto mechanic Carlos A. Cetina; county employee Sylvia Luna; political consultant William Michael Morrison; journalist Edward Rivera; businessman/community leader Jesus “Jesse” Rosas; community leader Ernest E. Sanchez; and design professional/businessman Stephen Sarinana-Lampson.
In the 3rd District, declarations have been filed by incumbent Dennis Zine; small-business owner Jeff Bornstein; and engineer/educator William Charles McMahon.
In the 5th District, papers have been filed by Councilman Jack Weiss; businessman/community leader Gregory K. Martayan; corporate officer/entrepreneur Gregory Zinone; and neighborhood council board member David T. Vahedi.
In the 11th District, four candidates have declared their intent to run for the open seat: university professor/journalist Bill Rosendahl; area planning commissioner Flora Gil Krisiloff; attorney/city commissioner Angela J. Reddock; and schoolteacher Paul Whitehead.
Councilwoman Janice Hahn, the mayor’s sister, is seeking reelection in the 15th District and could face educator/ military retiree John Fer; businessman/father Raymond Paul Covit; community peace activist Daude Larmar Sherrills; and volunteer public advocate Don Compton.
In other contests, three incumbents for the Community College District Board of Trustees filed for reelection.
For Office No. 2, trustee Michael D. Waxman filed papers, as did Cesar Castellanos, a community college activist; Jonathan P. Christie, an optometrist; James “Jamie” Cordaro, a businessman and educational instructor; Lewis Myers, a community leader; and Elizabeth Saldivar, who listed herself as a student representative board member.
For Office No. 4, declarations have been filed by incumbent Kelly Candaele; computer network administrator Avelino Andy Andazola; neighborhood empowerment intern Lera Ashe; teacher-producer-environmentalist Mark Gonzaga; and community college advocate Joyce B. Garcia.
Four have filed for Office No. 6: trustee Nancy Pearlman; curriculum specialist Gerald Wayne Perttula; education advocate Maria Grunwald-Agazaryan; and student David Sheng.
Filing details are available at: www.lacity.org/clk/election/Candidates/DECLARAT.pdf