As the votes were tallied, former Los Angeles Unified School District board member Jackie Goldberg took an early lead Tuesday evening against former teacher and mayoral aide Heather Repenning in a runoff election.
Goldberg and Repenning were vying to join the seven-member Board of Education, which has a seat left vacant by the resignation of Ref Rodriguez, who stepped down last July after pleading guilty to conspiracy and other charges for laundering campaign donations from family and friends.
Less than an hour after the polls closed, the first election night ballot count included 16,985 mailed votes out of 153,059 vote by mail ballots issued in the district. Updates to the tally at the Norwalk Headquarters were expected to continue through the evening from all 112 polling places.
As of 10 p.m., Goldberg had 70.7% of the votes (13,968 votes); Repenning’s tally was 29.3% (5,796 votes).
In the March 5 primary election, Goldberg fell just short of the 50% majority vote needed to avoid a runoff. Since she fell short of the mark, she had to face the second-place finisher, Repenning, in Tuesday’s runoff election.
Repenning barely edged out Huntington Park City Councilwoman Graciela “Grace” Ortiz in the March 5 primary to win second place in the election, collecting a little more than 13% of the overall vote. Goldberg had roughly 48%.
The primary results would appear to give Goldberg — a former teacher, LAUSD board member, Los Angeles City Council member and Democratic state legislator — an edge in the race. She is heavily backed by United Teachers Los Angeles, the union representing the district’s teachers. The union has poured money into Goldberg’s campaign, hoping to undo a board majority that generally favored expansion of charter schools in the district.
Rodriguez’s departure left the board with a perceived 3-3 split on the issue, and a Goldberg victory would swing the panel back in UTLA’s favor.
In her campaign, Goldberg touted her experience on the board.
“I’m running to be a strong progressive voice on the board who will put the interests of the students first, and as someone who will not have a big learning curve when elected,” according to a statement on Goldberg’s campaign website. “I believe my experience and passion for helping students will be a steadying force on a board that continues to face turmoil.”
Repenning, a former teacher and aide to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, has the backing of Garcetti and several City Council members, along with a host of labor unions.
Repenning told CNS that LAUSD schools are “not currently set up to meet the challenges facing the many students whose families are living in poverty, 80% of which qualify for free and reduced lunch.
“Many of our families have enrolled their kids in charter schools which are not subjected to the same level of transparency and accountability as district schools, and many union jobs have been lost in this process,” Repenning said.
District 5 stretches from Eagle Rock, Highland Park and to Atwater Village, Los Feliz, and Silver Lake south to Vernon, Maywood, Huntington Park, Cudahy, South Gate and Bell.
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