Most Angelenos don’t realize it, but the local primary election is just five months away. Even fewer know that in addition the Mayor and City Council, the March 5 ballot will include three school board seats. Three, count ‘em, three (out of seven).
But why should anyone be paying attention? There aren’t even any candidates yet! Or at least not many of them. Or at least not officially.
Behind the scenes, however, interest groups are searching furiously for the perfect candidate — and potential candidates are huddled around kitchen tables deciding if they should go for it.
One of the most-discussed contenders to run against Steve Zimmer for District 4 is Kate Anderson (pictured), executive director of a reform organization called Children Now.
Read below for more about Anderson and other possible District 4 candidates, and check back soon for the rundown on Districts 2 and 6, which are also in play.
Since many school board votes are 4 to 3, the stakes couldn’t possibly be higher for both sides. (If you think that’s hyperbole, check out the amount of money spent on the 2011 school board races: more than $5 million, with nearly $3.5 million of that going to the race in District 5, which was open.)
There are as of yet no declared challengers for District 4, however, Anderson‘s is the name that’s being bandied about the most. She ran for State Assembly in 2010, but was defeated in the Democratic primary by Betsy Butler, who was the eventual winner. Anderson is now the Los Angeles director of Children Now, an advocacy group that deals mostly with child health issues and early childhood education. She also sits on the board of the Mar Vista Community Council.
“It’s not something that I’ve entirely ruled out,” Anderson told me over the phone today. “I have two daughters in Mar Vista elementary, a public school, and they’re getting terrific education. I think LAUSD is doing a fine job given what it’s got, but it could be doing better, and I wonder if i could be useful in improving the system. But i haven’t made any decision about it.”
If Anderson decides to stay out, there’s a slim chance that Ben Austin could be convinced to run again. Now head of Parent Revolution, Austin was a former deputy mayor under Richard Riordan, a former Green Dot employee, and — embarrassingly — a failed 2009 candidate for LAUSD school board who did not collect enough signatures to qualify (see: Setback for school board candidate). Austin went on to serve on the State Board of Education and was instrumental in getting California’s Parent Trigger law passed in 2010. (See: California’s Parent Trigger).
The last day to file for candidacy is November 10.
See our previous post, Candidacy Countdown, for a (slightly outdated) look at official candidates and cash they’ve raised. More on the money, and on the other potential candidates, in the days to follow.