The LA teachers union, UTLA, has decided to endorse LA Unified school board President Richard Vladovic in his reelection bid for the District 7 board seat.
While it’s his third run for the seat, it’s the first time the teachers are throwing support his way, making him that rare candidate who has won the endorsements of both UTLA and the California Charter Schools Association.
“I am honored to have the support of teachers in Los Angeles,” Vladovic said on his campaign website. “I will continue to fight to ensure that school employees and students feel empowered so together we can continue to provide a strong education for a better Los Angeles.”
UTLA did not respond to messages seeking comment, leaving open the question of whether the union will spend on Vladovic’s behalf.
The District 7 race is one of three on the May 19 runoff ballot involving the school board. Two other incumbents are defending their seats — Tamar Galatzan in District 3 and Bennett Kayser in District 5. Galatzan won her primary and will face Scott Schmerelson in the runoff, and Kayser advanced by finishing second to Ref Rodriguez.
Vladovic, who has served as president since 2013, moved into the runoff by narrowly defeating Lydia Gutierrez, 42.6 percent to 37.6. He won the endorsement of the charter group but not UTLA.
Given the margin of victory, the union’s support might come in handy in the runoff.
Gutierrez, a former teacher in the Long Beach Unified School District, is a Republican who won nearly 1 million votes statewide last year in challenging Tom Torlakson for State Superintendent for Education. With backing from the charter group in the primary, Vladovic beat her by only 657 votes among 13,086 cast.
Success in his first runs for board came with less uncertainty. In 2007, he won in the general election with 54.2 percent of the vote. Four years later he won reelection with an outright victory in the primary, with 63.1 percent of the vote.
UTLA and the charter group waged a million dollar spending war in this year’s primary, largely focused on District 5, with UTLA supporting Kayser and the charters helping Rodriguez.
The charters also spent to aide Galatzan. After sitting out the primary, UTLA is backing Schmerelson in the runoff.