Endorsement: Fidencio Gallardo for Los Angeles Unified school board District 5

Fidencio Gallardo smiles outside Bell High School.
Portrait of Bell Mayor Fidencio Gallardo at Bell High School last year.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Departing Los Angeles Unified school board member Jackie Goldberg leaves big shoes to fill in District 5 — a C-shaped expanse that includes Eagle Rock, East Hollywood, Koreatown, South L.A. and the southeast cities of Huntington Park, Maywood and South Gate.

Many of these communities were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to suffer from learning loss, chronic absenteeism and other problems. They need a champion who is prepared to advocate and deliver for them from day one.

While the presidential contest will garner the most attention in 2024, there are many important races and measures on state and local ballots.

Feb. 7, 2024

Fortunately, there’s an experienced, thoughtful and fair-minded candidate to succeed Goldberg and provide the representation these often-neglected communities deserve. Fidencio Gallardo, the mayor of the City of Bell, was a classroom teacher and administrator for nearly three decades until he began working as a deputy for Goldberg in 2019.


Of the four candidates running, Gallardo articulates the clearest vision for improving student achievement and well-being in the wake of the pandemic. And his breadth of experience puts him in the best position to actually get things done.

The state legislator and former Glendale City Council member has been a smart, principled policymaker who takes on difficult issues to solve problems, not to earn political points.

Jan. 19, 2024

Gallardo said he plans to prioritize student literacy and achievement, which along with attendance, has suffered tremendously since the pandemic. He would continue the important work of greening school campuses that are asphalt-laden hot spots and detrimental to children’s health and learning.

His most recent teaching experience as an 11th-grade English Language Arts instructor at South Gate High School gives him insight into the best ways that the school board can allocate resources to help students struggling with reading.

The L.A. Unified board seems to be moving past the years of ideologically driven conflict between pro-charter-school advocates and the powerful United Teachers Los Angeles union. The current board has given Supt. Alberto Carvalho more leeway than many of his predecessors to carry out district policies, which is an improvement over its heavy-handedness in the past. But the board still needs members with the courage to hold the superintendent accountable and force changes to policies if they aren’t delivering for students and their families.

The longtime legislator stands out for his extraordinary leadership over the last several years in helping to protect the nation’s institutions, the rule of law and American democracy itself from former President Trump.

Jan. 14, 2024

Gallardo is appropriately critical of some decisions by district leaders in recent years. That includes Carvalho’s move to replace the successful Primary Promise program that helps elementary school students struggling with reading and math with a new program that includes middle school students, and the board’s 2021 decision to remove school police from campuses without a clear plan to keep students safe.

Gallardo said he will push for more unarmed school safety officers so that every campus has someone consistently responsible for keeping students safe, and for giving individual schools greater discretion over what type of safety personnel are on their campuses. It’s middle-ground positions like these, that seem reasonable but are at odds with UTLA, that could be a good indication of what to expect from Gallardo on the board.


He also wants to see more educational support for kids during their critical middle school years, including more one-on-one instruction. It’s a priority that’s informed by his experience as a high school English teacher who encountered many students without the reading skills to handle classics such as “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

The ballot measure would force L.A.’s leaders to enact their own visionary Mobility Plan, which aims to make the city’s car-dominated streets safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and transit users.

Jan. 18, 2024

There are three other candidates in the race: retired administrator Victorio Gutierrez; special education teacher Karla Griego, who has the endorsement of UTLA; and Graciela Ortiz, an LAUSD administrator and member of the Huntington Park City Council who has the backing of charter school advocates and Service Employees International Union, Local 99, which represents classified school staff. None of them offer the same mix of skills, experience and independence as Gallardo.

Though he did not win the backing of charter school advocates or the two most powerful unions, Gallardo has deep community ties and a long list of prominent supporters, including Goldberg. It’s an indication that voters can expect him to work for policies that best serve students rather than those that only benefit labor or charter school interests — and that makes him the best candidate in this race.