In District 1 in Los Angeles, a well-funded, politically-connected candidate–Alex Johnson– squares off against an underfunded, highly qualified educator–George McKenna.
McKenna won 44% of the vote in the primary to Johnson’s 26%. The run-off is August 12.
But Johnson has raised almost eight times as much as McKenna in individual contributions ($48,000) to less than $6,500 for McKenna. In addition, Johnson has received more than $140,000 from Super Pacs, compared to $110,000 for McKenna.
Johnson, a senior aide to the county supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, received the endorsement of SEIU 99, the union of school-related employees, including bus drivers, teachers’ aides, and cafeteria workers. Johnson supports Superintendent John Deasy and has received aid from charter school groups. The teachers’ unions are divided. The local UTLA supports McKenna; the state CTA endorsed Johnson.
But McKenna got a big boost when board member Monica Ratliff endorsed him. Ratliff was elected last year despite vast expenditures against her by the corporate reform crowd. In endorsing McKenna, Ratliff said:
“It is with the utmost respect for his long history of success and dedication to students that I wholeheartedly endorse George McKenna for School Board,” Ratliff said in the announcement. “His many years of experience as a dedicated and successful teacher, principal, and administrator will continue to serve the students and parents of District 1 well.”
Keep a close watch on this race to see which direction the nation’s second largest district will take.
Will voters prefer an experienced educator or a political novice for the school board?