Johnson to join county board after losing bid for L.A. Unified post

A week after losing a close election for the Los Angeles school board, Alex Johnson will take on a different leadership role in education.

Johnson, 34, has accepted a nomination for the Los Angeles County school board.

The seven-member body is appointed by county supervisors and oversees the county education office. Johnson will be the nominee of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who announced his choice Wednesday.


For the last four years, Johnson has worked as a deputy for Ridley-Thomas, focusing on education and public safety. Ridley-Thomas also had been a primary backer of Johnson’s recent run for office.

“I’ve been very impressed with his commitment to education,” Ridley-Thomas said, while also praising Johnson’s intelligence and his “passion for improving the lives of students in our education system.”

To accept the volunteer post, Johnson must surrender his job as an aide, which pays about $100,000 a year. He has not found a replacement job.

On the board, Johnson will succeed Rudell S. Freer, the longest-serving county board member. The appointees serve two- or four-year terms but can be replaced at will by the nominating supervisor. Ridley-Thomas acknowledged that he had asked Freer to step down.

The county education office handles the payroll of most local school systems and reviews the financial health of all county districts. It also manages campuses for incarcerated students, programs for many disabled students and a well-regarded performing arts high school.

Johnson lost his bid for elected office to retired senior school district administrator George McKenna. Johnson declined to rule out another run for that office.

“The major issue we have to look at is what I’m trying to do as an appointment of the supervisor,” Johnson said. He added that he wanted to make sure students in county programs “have the quality of education they deserve.”

McKenna defeated Johnson in a special election to fill the remaining 10 months of the four-year seat that opened up when Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte died in December.

District 1 spans South and southwest L.A. A full, four-year term for the same office will go before voters next March.

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