Heather Repenning officially won the right Friday to face front-runner Jackie Goldberg in a May runoff for a pivotal seat on the Los Angeles Board of Education.
Repenning made it on the ballot after finishing 31 votes over Graciela Ortiz, county officials announced.
Ortiz has the right to challenge the results by paying for a recount.
In the March 5 primary, Goldberg was the clear leader, winning 48.2% of the vote on a ballot with 10 candidates. After the initial count on election night, Ortiz was narrowly ahead — but Repenning edged above her as officials tallied mail-in and provisional ballots.
In the end, Goldberg had nearly 16,000 votes while Repenning had 4,341 (13.13%) and Ortiz 4,310 (13.03%).
Ortiz will have five days, starting Saturday, to request a recount. A recount could then begin as soon as March 30. The cost is about $5,000 per day, which could be a challenge for Ortiz. Her campaign has reported being more than $53,000 in debt, according to the latest filings with the city.
District 5 covers neighborhoods north of downtown and then cuts a narrow path east of downtown to the cities of southeast L.A. County.
Goldberg is a former longtime teacher who previously served on the school board for eight years and subsequently won election to the L.A. City Council and state Legislature.
Repenning, a longtime senior aide to L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, resigned as a city publics works commissioner to run for office. Ortiz is a school counselor and also an elected council member in the city of Huntington Park, which is within the L.A. school system.
The school board has been split on key issues, including how to deal with the growing number of privately operated charter schools, which compete with district schools for students. Board members also have been divided on how to deal with serious budget problems, but they have united behind a June parcel tax that could raise about $500 million a year for the nation’s second-largest school system.
Repenning and Goldberg both support the measure.
Goldberg’s backers include the teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles, which spent about $670,000 on her behalf. Local 99 of Service Employees International Union, which represents most non-teaching district employees, spent nearly $1 million on behalf of Repenning. Local 99’s efforts were boosted by a $100,000 election day donation from local philanthropist Eli Broad.