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Jackie Goldberg Wins School Board Election, Again ~ Will Face Runoff

[dropcap size=big]W[/dropcap]ith 100 percent of of precincts reporting, Jackie Goldberg emerged the winner of Tuesday's special election to represent L.A. Unified's 5th District on the Board of Education.

With 48.26 percent of the votes, she fell less than two percent shy of the threshold to avoid a runoff with the second place finisher. That appears to be Graciela "Grace" Ortiz (13.3 percent) who is narrowly ahead of Heather Repenning (13.09 percent).

That election is scheduled for May 14. Goldberg’s showing in Tuesday’s elections puts her on the path for her second tenure as a member of the school board.

Via L.A. County Registrar.

Goldberg is a former teacher, L.A. City Council member, and California State Representative. She was an LAUSD member and president in the 1980s, when she spearheaded district wide bilingual education initiatives. Goldberg has been a powerful force in local left and progressive politics, especially in the northeastern part of the city, where half of LAUSD’s 5th district lies.

Goldberg is a champion of after-school programs, authoring state bonds to increase funding for public education, and striking a tone of unwavering support for public education and the teachers union. She has also signaled a flexibility to work with both local charter school administrators and LAUSD superintendent Austin Beutner. Goldberg racked up support from State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, Dolores Huerta, the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, and United Teachers Los Angeles.

All images courtesy of Jackie Goldberg.

“Our local charter school administrators, they do believe they are doing a good job, my problem isn’t with them,” Goldberg told L.A. Taco. “The problem is legislation in Sacramento that means that charter and public schools can’t co-exist. The system unintentionally economically undermines schools with parents who keep kids in public schools.”

She said the system does this by tying public dollars to enrollment, meaning policy at the state level takes money out of public schools when parents enroll their kids in charter schools.

Goldberg reiterated to L.A. Taco that she didn’t want to close charters. She does want them to be more regulated by the district and the state. She also wants charter schools to submit budgets to the district, in addition to a stop to co-location of charter schools inside of LAUSD buildings, and a moratorium on the building of new charter schools until a district wide study is done to assess their impact on public education in the city.

RELATED: L.A. Taco Podcast: A Conversation About Teaching and Tacos With an Educator on the Picket Lines

Goldberg said she wants to go to Sacramento with local charter administrators and public school representatives and argue for increased funding for L.A. schools and a reform of the legislation that dictates how school funding is doled out.

“Billionaires trying to kill public education are different than our local charter administrators,” Goldberg told L.A. Taco.

Although she strikes a conciliatory tone, Goldberg is likely to overturn the current 3-3 tie on the LAUSD board between pro-charter members and pro-public school and UTLA supported members, by joining the latter and tilting the balance of power.

The District 5 seat became open for this special election when pro-charter member Ref Rodriguez pleaded guilty to felony counts of conspiracy and money laundering charges to help fund his 2015 election to the school board.

Although this year’s election was not anywhere near the $14.3 million raised in 2017’s school board election — two thirds of that money raised by pro-charter organizations to elect Nick Melvoin and Kelly Gonez — all nine (yes, nine), candidates running for District 5 raised about $1.7 million in total, with Goldberg securing hundreds of thousands of dollars, mostly from UTLA.

She was significantly out-raised by Repenning, backed by SEIU, and Allison Bajracharya, who was heavily backed by a New York-based charter school organization. While Ortiz, an LAUSD school counselor and one of the only candidates running from the southern part of district 5, which encompasses Huntington Park, Maywood, and Bell, raised money from her political connections in Southeast L.A.

Courtesy of Jackie Goldberg.

Martha E Flores, the founder of Brava Digital INC, and a resident of Mt. Washington in the northern part of District 5, noticed the lack of diversity in the candidates getting the most media attention and fundraising too, so she voted for Cynthia Gonzales.

Gonzales is the principle of Diego Rivera Learning Complex in South L.A., and one of the only candidates to have grown up and still live in the southern, less affluent part of the district. She finished fourth Tuesday with 9.16 percent of the vote.

“I voted for 90 percent of the district — the southern, Latino part — not the Mt. Washington part,” Flores, who is a parent of a public school student, told L.A. Taco. She was referring to District 5’s overwhelming majority of Latino households, most of which are in Southeast L.A. The northern part of the district also encompasses Silver Lake, Loz Feliz, and the rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods of Eagle Rock and Highland Park.

“I want to look beyond ‘what are you doing for my school?’ to ‘what are you doing for the district as a whole?’,” Flores explained, “I want every kid that attends LAUSD to have a chance, not just the kids at my kid’s school.”

RELATED: Jackie Goldberg Is Back: Liberal L.A. Veteran Takes on Charter Movement in L.A. School District Special Election

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