Los Angeles Community College District elections: Everything you need to know

Students walk between classes at Los Angeles City College.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

The Los Angeles Community College District is the largest community college district in the nation. Voters must chose among 33 candidates for four seats on the seven-member board.

With 33 candidates vying for four at-large seats on the seven-member Los Angeles Community College District board, the well-being and academic success of the state’s neediest college students are at stake.

Here are the basics:

The issues

Student basic needs crisis. Before the pandemic, an estimated 62% of students in the LACCD were food-insecure and 55% were housing-insecure. COVID-19 has deepened those insecurities, and access to laptops and high-speed internet is a necessity that many students lack, exacerbating an enormous digital divide.


Oversight of the chancellor. The election outcome will determine whether the LACCD’s chief administrator, Chancellor Francisco Rodriguez, stays or goes. In December, the board voted 5 to 2 to renew his contract for just one year, to 2021. Board member Scott Svonkin, who voted no, said at the time that Rodriguez had done too little to counter the district’s declining enrollment and low graduation and transfer rates, had allowed student information to be compromised with a broken IT system and had failed to prevent mismanagement of funds.

Oversight of the bond program. Out of the district’s $5.4-billion budget for 2020-21, $3.9 billion is from voter-approved bond measures for building. After The Times ran a series detailing massive waste in the program, the district put in place a bond oversight monitor, but questions have persisted about how the money is being spent.

The candidates

The full list of names can be found beginning on page 92 of the final list of qualified candidates, available on the website of the L.A. County registrar-recorder’s office. Voter Edge offers more details about each candidate, including their positions on some issues. (Seat 1; Seat 3; Seat 5; Seat 7)

Current board President Andra Hoffman and incumbents David Vela and Mike Fong have been endorsed by the Los Angeles College Faculty Guild, the union that represents community college faculty members, and the L.A. County Democratic Party, as has newcomer Nichelle Henderson, a teacher at Cal State L.A.

Another group of four candidates nicknamed the “LACCD Justice Squad” — Karen Hernandez, Ruffin Patterson, Cory Butler and Michelle Manos — were handpicked by student leaders to focus on student priorities: grants for basic needs, health services, culturally relevant support programs for Black and Latino students, and a rethinking of the campuses’ relationship with law enforcement. The Times editorial board endorsed a mix of incumbents and challengers.

Reading list

Election of a board majority will shape the nation’s largest community college district

L.A. community colleges will remain online-only through spring

Students hit hard as L.A. community colleges scramble to respond to coronavirus

Thousands of community college students withdraw after a lost semester amid coronavirus