The Long Beach Unified school superintendent and school board members have urged voters to cast ballots for one of two Latino candidates vying for a board seat in the April 12 election, a move criticized by the third contender, who is not Latino.
A letter signed by Supt. Carl Cohn and the five board members did not endorse the Latino candidates by name, but said: "The Latino population . . . served by the Long Beach Unified School District deserves--yes, even demands--a board member representing them."
Olivia Herrera, a community activist, and Jerome Torres, a city employee, are running for the District 3 seat being vacated by the board's only Latina, Jenny Oropeza, who is seeking a City Council seat. The third board candidate, who criticized the letter, is Bonnie Lowenthal, a white family counselor.
"District elections were not about race," said Lowenthal, who cites her longtime involvement in the Latino and Cambodian communities. "The community has a right to make the choice it wants."