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Lineup of L.A. candidates is finalized

November 09, 2008|Howard Blume | Blume is a Times staff writer.

As the noon deadline passed Saturday for candidates to enter Los Angeles' mayoral, City Council and school board elections in March, several new names emerged in various races, but there were no major surprises.

In a contest likely to foreshadow coming battles on the Board of Education, the field to replace Westside school board member Marlene Canter will include charter-school advocates, teachers and parents.

Canter, a wealthy businesswoman, ran independently of political and monied forces trying to influence the Los Angeles Unified School District. Those in the race to succeed her in District 4 will compete for dollars and endorsements from such groups as charter-school advocates and the teachers union, which are frequently at odds.

An early funding advantage may belong to political consultant Ben Austin, a deputy mayor under Richard Riordan. In an e-mail to potential supporters, Austin said he'll "probably" have the support of Riordan, current Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad and Hollywood director/activist Rob Reiner. In recent years, Austin has worked for Steve Barr, the founder of Green Dot Public Schools, a charter-school organization. He recently became acting executive director of the Parents Union, a Green Dot spinoff aimed at mobilizing parents.

The candidate with the deepest parent-involvement pedigree is former financial consultant Bill Ring, whose daughter attends a district high school. Ring has served on district-managed parent groups in many capacities and currently is trying to form an independent group to help parents engage the district bureaucracy.

One of two teachers in the race is Mike Stryer, a union chapter chair at Fairfax High who points to his earlier career in finance as a qualification. The other teacher, Steve Zimmer, heads intervention programs at Marshall High in Silver Lake and also has served as volunteer family services director for a nonprofit in the Echo Park area.

The other candidates are psychologist David J. Jimenez, arts educator Bev Meyer and attorney Geoff Forgione.

Voters in District 6, in the north and east San Fernando Valley, will choose a school board replacement for the retiring Julie Korenstein, a staunch ally of United Teachers Los Angeles. The aspirants are educator Louis Pugliese, San Fernando Mayor Nury Martinez, San Fernando City Councilwoman Maribel De La Torre, parent Angelique Zobel-Rodriguez and Mary Najera, who has worked as a staff organizer for the Los Angeles Parents Union.

In District 2, which stretches outward from its downtown hub, school board president Monica Garcia will face freelance actor David Gold.

On Friday, billionaire real estate developer Rick Caruso announced that he would not run for mayor this year, leaving Villaraigosa with no strong opposition as he seeks a second term. Twenty-one challengers have lined up against Villaraigosa, but none have raised the money that may be necessary to compete.

Seven City Council incumbents face similar situations. The 5th District, however, has six candidates who have raised competitive dollars to succeed Jack Weiss in representing the Westside. Weiss, in turn, has amassed a sizable war chest in his bid for city attorney against five others vying to replace the termed-out Rocky Delgadillo.

Of the four candidates vying to succeed departing City Controller Laura Chick, the best-known are City Councilwoman Wendy Greuel and Nick Patsaouras, who until recently was president of the city's Department of Water and Power.

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howard.blume@latimes.com

Times staff writer Rong-Gong Lin II contributed to this report.

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