Steve Zimmer, center, gets a hug from campaign manager Greg Good at his postelection… (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles…)
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.
There was no doubt regarding one board seat for the nation's second-largest school system. School board President Monica Garcia ran unopposed in District 2, which surrounds the downtown core.
Also on the ballot were four seats on the seven-member board of the Los Angeles Community College District. The college district board, though divided into "seats," is elected on an at-large basis across the nine-college system.
For Seat 2, incumbent Angela J. Reddock appeared to be headed for a runoff with auditor Tina Park, who was running second in early returns.
Incumbent Kelly Candaele held a strong early lead over community college professor Roy Burns for Seat 4.
For Seat 6, incumbent Nancy Pearlman surged far ahead of closely packed challengers, but could be headed to a runoff based on incomplete results.
The race for Seat 7 pitted Miguel Santiago -- appointed after his predecessor was elected to the state Assembly -- against school administrator Kurt S. Lowry.
Santiago edged ahead in early totals.