Rivas pulls ahead of Brenes in L.A. school board race; Gonez remains the lead of her race

Teachers union supporters hold up signs calling for smaller classes.
School board candidate Rocio Rivas, center, joins a protest last month in support of contract demands by the teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles. Rivas has pulled ahead of opponent Maria Brenes in the tally for a too-close-to-call election.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Rocio Rivas has pulled ahead of Maria Brenes in a key Los Angeles Board of Education contest to represent downtown, surrounding neighborhoods and the Eastside, according the the latest county vote count.

Votes are still being counted, but in an updated tally released Friday, Rivas moved 47 votes ahead of Brenes, who had held the lead since polls closed on Tuesday.

In the balloting’s second board race, for a seat representing the east San Fernando Valley, school board President Kelly Gonez stretched her advantage over challenger Marvin Rodriguez to 1,578 votes, but the race remains close. Gonez has 51.27% of the votes tallied; Rodriguez 48.73%. Rodriguez, a high school Spanish teacher with virtually no campaign money and no major endorsements, had made a surprisingly strong showing.


The contest between Brenes and Rivas was expected to be hard-fought. Through Friday the count in their race stood at 30,736 votes for Rivas, or 50.04%, to 30,689 votes for Brenes, or 49.96%.

Many votes remain to be counted, and it’s difficult to predict trends because many mail-in and provisional ballots could still be outstanding. Ballots mailed as late as Election Day, on Nov. 8, will be counted if they arrive through next Tuesday.

Based on the turnout in the June primary, there could still be 10,000 to 15,000 votes left to be counted in each school board district.

Campaign dollar figures through Friday showed that $9.5 million went into the Brenes-Rivas District 2 contest, with about twice as much spending — $3 million more — on behalf of Brenes, the leader of the Boyle Heights-based community group InnerCity Struggle.

Independent campaigns on her behalf were funded by Local 99 of Service Employees International Union, which represents custodians, cafeteria workers, bus drivers and teacher aides and also by a political action committee controlled by retired businessman Bill Bloomfield and Netflix founder Reed Hastings, a charter schools supporter.

Measure LA, the proposed $5.3-billion construction bond measure that would help the L.A. Community College District, appears headed to victory.

Nov. 9, 2022

United Teachers Los Angeles launched a major independent campaign on behalf of Rivas, a senior aide to school board member Jackie Goldberg. Union leadership has joined Rivas in calling to curtail the growth and influence of charter schools, which are privately operated, mostly nonunion and publicly funded, and compete with district-operated schools for students.


The winner of the Rivas-Brenes contest will replace longtime incumbent Monica Garcia, who could not run again because of term limits.