L.A. school board races draw millions in outside spending

Los Angeles school board President Steve Zimmer.
(Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times)

Based on outside campaign spending, the school board is where the action is in the March 7 Los Angeles city election.

This is true even though there are 11 city contests, including races for mayor, city controller, city attorney and eight City Council seats — and just three seats up for grabs on the L.A. Board of Education.

The total outside spending in the city races as of Friday afternoon was $465,803. For the school board, it was $3,358,847.


Independent spending is when a group or political action committee chooses to support or oppose a candidate or ballot measure. As long as the candidate or the candidate’s campaign plays no role in managing this spending, there are no limits.

In the school board races, the largest spending was in District 4, covering the Westside and west San Fernando Valley, to defeat school board President Steve Zimmer ($1,256,121). Zimmer also was the single candidate with the most money spent on his behalf ($705,157).

Zimmer is in the unusual position of having critics who are backing two candidates against him. Nick Melvoin ($242,157) and Allison Holdorff Polhill ($183,415) both have benefited from allied independent campaigns on their behalf. Likewise, Zimmer supporters are running a campaign against each, totaling close to a combined $140,000, according to the Los Angeles Ethics Commission, which collects campaign finance records.

In the city races, District 5 drew the most independent spending, with $154,054 in support of incumbent City Councilman Paul Koretz and $13,184 against him.

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