District 5 Race Still in the Balance

In Los Angeles City voting, Luis Sanchez pushed got nearly 45 percent, Bennett Kayser followed with almost 39 percent and John Fernandez received almost 16 percent. But Sanchez got a clear majority in the five independent cities also in LAUSD District 5.


Though LAUSD District 5 candidate Luis Sanchez was eager to declare victory in front of his supporters last night, strong showings by opponents Bennet Kayser and John Fernandez have force the race to a runoff vote to be held next month.

Sanchez, a former city commissioner and the current chief of staff for LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia, earned 45 percent of the votes cast by Los Angeles city voters, edging out former Irving Middle School teacher and Echo Park resident Bennett Kayser, who earned 39 percent.

[Ed.: Returns reported late Wednesday from the independent cities of Bell, Commerce, Huntington Park, Monterey Park and South Gate showed Sanchez the victor by a 59 percent to 21 percent margin over Kayser in just those five cities.  This pushed the total percentage in the race for Sanchez to just below 49 percent, and Kayser's total down to just under 36 percent. One estimate is that as many as 4,500 ballots remain to be counted, so the runoff is still not confirmed. ]

A stronger than expected showing by long time teacher and administrator John Fernandez, who won almost 16 percent of the vote, seems to be responsible for pushing the closely contested race to a runoff, in which he will not be able to participate.  [Ed.: Fernandez gleaned almost 20 percent of the vote in the five independent cities.]

Fernandez had initially won the endorsement the United Teachers of Los Angeles, which the union later recinded citing concerns about his honesty and integrity related to undisclosed tax liens and a bankruptcy on his record.

Prior to learning that the race would be sent to a runoff, Sanchez celebrated with his supporters, which included Board President Garcia, Tuesday evening. He assured supporters he would advocate for better schools.

“When we decided to launch the campaign to elect Luis Sanchez,” he told the crowd, “it was about continuing the movement for educational justice. I am a part of a larger movement for better schools, a movement to make sure every child has a fighting change for opportunity.”

Sanchez thanked supporters and reminded them that the struggle to improve schools is far from over.

LAUSD, the second largest district in the country, is facing a dire financial situation. Last month, the board agreed to send 7,000 layoff notices to teachers and support staff to decrease the $408 million deficit to $183 million.

“It is easy to lead when things are good. But we need good leadership when times are tough,” he told the crowd. “When I get to that board on July 1 and when people say ‘No’ to me, when the special interest groups say ‘No’ to me, they are not saying ‘No’ to me they are saying ‘No’ to everyone in this room.”

He asked supporters to continue to build a stronger coalition for better schools.

The “special interest groups” Sanchez was referring to in his speech include the United Teachers Los Angeles, which poured about $330,000 to oppose Sanchez’s campaign.

But Sanchez’s experience as a political advisor helped him outspend his opponents by raising $164, 845.  He was also able to receive support from groups like "Citizens for Better Schools" sponsored by Service Employees International Union Local 99 which spent an additional $648,314 to support his campaign by sending campaign literature among other things, according to recent campaign contribution reports from the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission. 

By contrast, Kayser raised $18,798, including a $7,100 personal loan, and the United Teachers Los Angeles’ political action committee spent $237,576 to support his campaign. Hernandez loaned himself $10,000 to run his campaign. UTLA spent $35,291 to support Hernandez’s campaign until the union withdrew his endorsement after union members learned of undisclosed tax liens and bankruptcy on his record.

Kayser spent his Tuesday night with fellow teachers, campaign advisors and his family at Barragan's restaurant in Echo Park.

"UTLA has done a lot," he said. "And I expect them to do more.

Kayser said he will be seeking to diversify his funding sources. He also said he plans to reach out to voters who might not be as likely to come to the polls as they were in Tuesday's low-turnout race.

Kayser, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in May 2009, would be the first LAUSD board member with a disability as defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Whoever wins the District 5 could potentially tip the balance of power on the school board, as the winner will be replacing Yolie Flores Aguillar, a staunch supportor of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Aguillar is leaving the board to take on a leadership position with the Bill and Melinda Gates Education Foundation.

Other Villaraigosa allies, Richard Vladovic, who represents distict 7, and Marguerite Poindexter Lamotte, district 1, won reelection on Tuesday night, as did one of Villaraigosa's strongest opponents, district 3 representative Tamar Galtazan.

A win for Sanchez would likely mean the addition of another Villaraigosa friendly voice to the board. Kayser, who ran with the endorsement of the UTLA after the Fernandez fumble, would likely stand with teachers.

Robert D. Skeels March 22, 2011 at 09:11 PM
Just when you think corporate LAUSD hopeful Luis Sanchez couldn't be more unscrupulous and scandalous, he surprises with ever more deplorable acts of ignominy. This time around -- illegal fund-raising! LAUSD Board Seat #5 Run-off off to a premature and acrimonious start: LAUSD RUN-OFF CANDIDATE KAYSER CALLS ON SANCHEZ TO FORFEIT ILLEGALLY RAISED FUNDS http://4lakidsnews.blogspot.com/2011/03/lausd-board-seat-5-run-off-off-to.html Phillip Anschutz and Mayor Villaraigosa's corporate candidate Luiz Sanchez cheating again? http://rdsathene.blogspot.com/2011/03/phillip-anschutz-and-mayor.html ICS phonebanking for Luis Sanchez? Conflict of interest much? http://rdsathene.blogspot.com/2011/03/ics-phonebanking-for-luis-sanchez.html Why won't LAUSD's Luis Sanchez discuss Echo Parque's CRES #14? http://rdsathene.blogspot.com/2011/03/why-wont-lausds-luis-sanchez-discuss.html On Anschutz, Villaraigosa, LAUSD Privatization Candidates, and Riding Dinosaurs http://dissidentvoice.org/2011/02/on-anschutz-villaraigosa-lausd-privatization-candidates-and-riding-dinosaurs/
Anthony Krinsky April 22, 2011 at 03:13 PM
Robert, You and your UTLA pals are terrified that Sanchez just may continue what the current board has started, reforming the LAUSD. Kayser will make the board a tool of the UTLA, putting the selfish teacher union on both sides of the bargaining table, spelling an end to reform in LA, and crippling the district for another generation. The conflict of interest of having teachers elect their bosses is utterly apalling. The LAUSD has a $7 billion operational budget and another $5-$15 billion including capital costs. That's bigger than Google. The people of Los Angeles, not just school district employees cashing the checks, ought to be represented on the school board. Sanchez is the clear underdog in the run-off and needs all the support we can provide. If you'd like to learn more about how school boards dominate school board elections in California (and throughout the USA), destroying our education system in the process, buy a copy of Terry Moe's important new book, Special Interest (http://www.tinyurl.com/teacherunions). Here's a primer on the relevant section you can read today: http://educationnext.org/the-union-label-on-the-ballot-box/ What teacher unions and their socialist sympathizers (like Skeels) have done to America is tragic for children. Anthony
Anthony Krinsky April 22, 2011 at 03:23 PM
Luis Sanchez stands with children and for reform of the LAUSD. Bennett Kayser is a candidate bought-and-paid-for by the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA). The teacher unions have destroyed America and they will bury what's left of Los Angeles if they regain control of the school board as they previously did two cycles ago. Read here about how teacher unions have run rough-shod over US education policy since the early 1960s: http://www.tinyurl.com/teacherunions Former Secretary of Education, Rod Paige, describes in his book The War Against Hope how the UTLA utterly destroyed former Mayor Riordan's reform candidates, Caprice Young and Genethia Hayes in their 2003 re-election campaigns. They're doing the same to Sanchez now. Did the Riordan-backed school board do a bad job? No, student achievement in the district was on the up-swing; Hayes and Young deserved to be elected. But school performance never matters to selfish teacher unions. They care only about jobs, jobs, jobs -- at the expense of the children. The UTLA and sympathizers like Skeels will say whatever it takes to discredit their opposition while at the same time running a candidate bought-and-owned by teacher unions running a vicious, unscrupulous campaign. Reforming the LAUSD must continue! Kayser will stop reform cold in its tracks. The UTLA buried Riordan's reforms and they want to kill Villaraigosa's. Sanchez needs our support. The children of Los Angeles need Luis Sanchez.
Robert D. Skeels May 15, 2011 at 03:24 AM
Tuesday's election will determine whether we have a school board member who listens to our community and parents or one beholden to the deep pocketed corporate charter school sector. If you live in LAUSD District 5, your vote matters. The Importance of Tuesday's Runoff for LAUSD District 5 Board Seat http://echopark.patch.com/blog_posts/the-importance-of-tuesdays-runoff-for-lausd-district-5-board-seat
Anthony Krinsky May 17, 2011 at 03:30 AM
Luis Sanchez is a stand-up guy supported by the "poor" unions in Los Angeles. The janitors and bus drivers and police-men know what's going on in the LAUSD and reform must continue. We're wasting $7 billion dollars per year and sending these kids to jail or worse. The waste of human life is an atrocity. We need Sanchez on the board. Kayser will be a UTLA rubber-stamp and nothing good will come from it. Here is what is at stake: http://echopark.patch.com/blog_posts/lausd-district-5-whats-at-stake


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