The financial backing of the teachers union made two candidates favorites to win in Tuesday's contested races for the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education, but an underfunded office-seeker led in early returns in one district.
In District 4, which covers most of the Westside and reaches into Hollywood and the southwest San Fernando Valley, Marshall High teacher Steve Zimmer had an early lead over Fairfax High teacher Mike Stryer. United Teachers Los Angeles spent more than $287,000 in support of Zimmer, swamping other funding.
In District 6, covering the eastern San Fernando Valley, the union spent nearly $29,000 for San Fernando City Councilwoman Nury Martinez, according to the most recent filings. This money far surpassed the resources of her opponent, college instructor Louis Pugliese. Early returns, however, had Pugliese in front.
Zimmer and Martinez were endorsed by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who was in concert with the union, a contrast to two years ago, when the mayor opposed union-backed candidates in a high-cost election. This time, he remained largely on the sidelines, which allowed the union to expend fewer resources.