The only excitement from last night’s election involved the LAUSD Board races. Three incumbents are heading for a May runoff.
There was no clear common denominator that would explain why, in an incumbent-happy city, three highly recognizable, well-funded candidates would be struggling.
Was it a battle between charter proponents and the teachers’ union?
To some degree, yes. But I believe there was another driver behind the support for the challengers – people are fed up by a parade of costly failures and scandals stemming from a lack of diligence on the part of the board. The voters recognize the complicity of the incumbents in at least $500 million in losses incurred by the district over the last few years, topped off by an FBI investigation of the I-Pad contract. It is apparent the current board members are prone to being duped.
First the numbers (by percent of vote):
Vladovic and Galatzan were runaway, first-round, winners in 2011, so the results of last night reflect a significant change in their appeal to the voters.
Kayser had a close race in 2011, so the fact he is struggling again is not a surprise. He is also an opponent of charter schools and absorbed the wrath of their well-organized supporters, whose organization spent around $400,000 on ads targeting him. However, he also received $550,000 from the teachers’union – it’s not as if he was David vs. Goliath. It was a fair fight, as far as L.A politics goes.
Vladovic and Galatzan had all the advantages over their opponents: support of the pro-charter voters and big money. Galatzan, in particular, had deep pockets. The teachers’ union stayed neutral, too. Yet, their counts were anemic.
Despite holding the upper hand in resources, the two have much work to do. Galatzan is the more vulnerable. If her opponents in the race unite behind Scott Schmerelson for the runoff, she is in deep trouble.
Lydia Guiterrez, who has prior statewide campaign experience, is a formidable candidate and has a credible chance of unseating the entrenched Vladovic.
It can’t hurt public education to have a wholesale change at the LAUSD board. The current regime has wasted too many dollars. Others deserve a chance.