Huntington Park Councilwoman Graciela Ortiz Wednesday evening announced her candidacy for the District 5 seat on the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education vacated by Ref Rodriguez.

“The next school board member must be an individual that has the ability to unify other elected officials in order to ensure that our children are the priority,” Ortiz said. “Also critical is possessing the experience of being an educator.

“So many times we elect individuals that do not have the internal knowledge of places like LAUSD. This is crucial in order to understand the needs and challenges that our students face on a daily basis. I hold both those traits and I am a product of LAUSD that is why I believe that I am the right candidate for the board seat.”

According to information supplied by her campaign, Ortiz has spent 12 years as a pupil services and attendance counselor at various LAUSD schools, including the past five years at Linda Esperanza Marquez High School, described as an LAUSD “public choice high school” in Huntington Park.

Ortiz was born and raised in Huntington Park, graduating from Huntington Park High School in 1999. She graduated from UCLA and received a master’s degree in social work from Cal State University Long Beach.

Ortiz has been endorsed by three mayors from District 5.

Rodriguez resigned Monday in connection with a guilty plea to a felony conspiracy charge and four misdemeanors for reimbursing donors to his 2015 election campaign.

LAUSD board President Monica Garcia and Vice President Nick Melvoin issued a joint statement Monday saying the board will meet “in the coming weeks” to determine the process of replacing Rodriguez on the board.

“While we would like to ensure no break in representation for District 5 by appointing a temporary voting representative as soon as possible, we would also like to call a special election to fill the vacancy as soon as we can,” they said. “A board majority will have to agree to a plan.”

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