Kelly Gonez declares victory in LAUSD’s District 6 race
Esmeralda Fabián Romero | May 17, 2017
Charter teacher Kelly Gonez has won the LA Unified school board race for the open District 6 seat, according to unofficial results.
“Based on the results we’re seeing, I feel confident that the voters of BD6 have voted to make me your next member of the Board of Education,” Gonez tweeted just after 12:30 a.m.
With all precincts reporting, Gonez received 13,079 votes, or 51.47 percent, over Imelda Padilla, who got 12,331 votes, or 48.52 percent. Only 748 votes separated them.
Surrounded by dozens of supporters at Magaly’s Tamales restaurant in the city of San Fernando earlier in the evening, Gonez was in tears as she accepted her possible victory over Padilla in an intense runoff race for the board seat that will represent over 93,000 students that attend traditional and charter schools in the San Fernando Valley. In District 6, 87 percent of the students are Latinos and 86 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.
“I’m moved by the overwhelming support of families, my students, and the community. That’s the whole reason why I’m doing this. I’m hopeful that all of the hard work we have done over the last several months and the community support will hold the results,” Gonez told LA School Report.
The crowd at Gonez’s election results watching party was mostly made up of mothers wearing “Parents for Kelly” T-shirts who were chanting for Gonez and clearly in a celebratory mood.
“I thank God for Kelly. She is the most prepared candidate to take over a position like that in the board. I think she will make wise decisions to benefit all students here,” said Jocelyn Peralta, mother of two students attending Pacoima Charter school.
Another mother, Elizabeth Santana, said she felt hopeful the official results will confirm Gonez as the replacement of Mónica Ratliff on the LAUSD school board. “I’m proud that a Latina woman will take that position. She seems like she deeply cares for our kids. She’s a teacher, so what could be better than that,” she said.
“If I’m lucky enough to be elected I know that there would be a lot on my shoulders. I’m excited and nervous,” Gonez, 28, said earlier in the evening. She was joined by her parents and husband.
At Padilla’s watching party at Buon Gusto Restaurant, the atmosphere was already tense and quiet among her supporters as early results were coming in. The worry was evident in the faces of some of the teacher union members that were at there, including Alex Caputo-Pearl, the UTLA president.
Padilla, on the other hand, looked optimistic. She said that the numbers were very close and things could still change in her favor. She received the endorsements of major unions including UTLA and SEIU Local 99, while Gonez was backed by pro-reform groups.
Arleta High School teacher Hector Perez was one of the supporters who attended the party there and said he was hopeful the results would change to favor Padilla because he believes she is “knows well the community.”
“Imelda has a lot of experience in the community and students need that connection,” said Perez. “I don’t know Kelly. I have not seen her active in the community, never heard of her before, but that doesn’t mean we’re not willing to hold her accountable and working with her for our kids.”
*Updated with vote results.