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Repenning edges closer to facing Goldberg in runoff for L.A. school board seat

Repenning edges closer to facing Goldberg in runoff for L.A. school board seat
Heather Repenning, right, gathers with supporters during an election night party in Eagle Rock. (John McCoy / For The Times)

With nearly all votes tallied for a pivotal Los Angeles school board seat, Heather Repenning holds second place by 31 votes, a margin that is probably enough to get her into a runoff against Jackie Goldberg, election officials said.

The counting period officially ends Wednesday, and there might not be any additional votes. Currently there are no more to count, although 47 voters whom officials have tried to contact could come forward and correct problems that kept their ballots from being tallied. A few missorted ballots also might turn up.

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But the math is strongly working against Graciela Ortiz, who is just behind Repenning — especially because nearly half of all voters chose Goldberg. Repenning’s campaign declared victory Friday — suggesting that she had secured the second spot in the runoff.

If Repenning’s lead holds, Ortiz could challenge the results by paying for a recount. Both the Ortiz and Repenning campaigns have requested and received the small list of voters whose ballots need to be “cured” before they can be counted, said Alex Olvera, the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s division manager for election information and preparation.

A special election was held last week to fill the vacant District 5 seat on the seven-member Board of Education. In recent years, the board has been split over key issues, including how best to oversee privately operated charter schools and how to deal with looming financial problems. The board also was divided over the hiring last year of Supt. Austin Beutner.

Goldberg finished far ahead of nine other candidates in the March 5 election, claiming more than 48% of the vote. But because she did not win a majority, she has to face the second-place finisher in a May 14 runoff.

A longtime teacher, Goldberg previously served eight years on the school board before moving on to the L.A. City Council and the state Legislature.

Repenning, a former longtime senior aide to L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, resigned as a city public works commissioner to run for office. Ortiz is a school counselor and member of the Huntington Park City Council. Huntington Park is within the L.A. school district.

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