In an unusual move, PACE, the political arm of the second-largest teachers union in the country, is sitting on the sidelines for the moment, after voting last night to “recommend no endorsement” in the upcoming LA Unified school board race to fill the vacant seat in South Los Angeles, District 1.
At the endorsement meeting at union headquarters, the PACE committee interviewed 5 of the 7 candidates – George McKenna, Sherlett Hendy Newbill, Alex Johnson, Rachel Johnson and Hattie McFrazier — and reviewed answers to a questionnaire sent out prior to the meeting. Two other candidates, Genethia Hudley-Hayes and Omarosa Manigault, were not invited to appear.
In the end, the committee voted for no recommendation, according to a source at UTLA.
The endorsement process next goes to the March 19 meeting of the UTLA board of directors, which itself can issue a recommendation for the UTLA House of Representatives. The representatives meet on March 26 as the final forum when an endorsement can be made.
That endorsement can often be an important one. With the city imposing campaign limits on direct contributions, school board elections often depend on the involvement of super PAC committees.
The UTLA super PAC typically plays a big role. Last year it activated a field operation and spent millions of dollars for direct mail pieces and phone banks on behalf of its candidates. The other big union player in the race is expected to be SEIU Local 99, the union of school support staff, which will decide on its endorsements later this spring.
Associated Administrators of Los Angeles, AALA, the union representing principals and other administrators, endorses but spends little money. Reform groups, which also spent millions last year, have not yet picked a candidate to support.
The District 1 seat became vacant when longtime school board member, Marguerite LaMotte died in office late last year.