An energetic crowd gathered early on a Saturday morning to listen to a pep talk from District 4 incumbent Steve Zimmer before hitting the pavement to walk the precinct.
Standing on a chair to address the crowd, Zimmer spoke of his appreciation for their efforts and pride in the commitment of those who showed up, including some of his former students.
“The most important thing that each of you can bring today to these doorsteps is your own story,” Zimmer said. “Your experience with me as a board member and as a leader of this district, that’s what actually makes a difference when people go to the ballot box.”
About 65 volunteers snacked on bagels and cream cheese at the West Hollywood campaign office overlooking Sunset Boulevard before gathering in teams to head out.
Zimmer also addressed the recent $1 million donation from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to the Coalition for School Reform, which backs Zimmer’s opponent, Kate Anderson.
“The question out there very strongly is can a very narrow agenda buy a school board seat, kick out a successful incumbent, and destroy the coalition that we’ve built,” Zimmer said. “Our answer to that agenda is a loud and clear…”
“No!” the throng of volunteers eagerly screamed out in unison.
Zimmer said there is one primary focus from now until election day:
“Really, the focused message now is getting out to voters,” Zimmer said. “It’s all about voter contact now.”
Renata Garza, a LAUSD schoolteacher who lives in Pasadena, said she gladly sacrificed her Saturday morning to help Zimmer’s campaign.
“He’s one of those genuinely good people motivated by no other reason that he wants to help students, and I think that’s inspiring,” said Garza who teaches at 49th Street Elementary School.
Others said the children in the district must be the top priority.
“There’s so much fighting going on that no one’s looking out for the interests of the kids,” Amy Sobajian said.
Sobajian, who said she lives near Kate Anderson and knows her, likes both candidates but said she has made her choice.
“She’s a good person, but he knows how to do the job,” Sobajian said.
About 120 volunteers have helped out in recent months, making calls and walking precincts as well as hosting “meet and greets” and fundraisers, according to Zimmer’s campaign manager, Ari Ruiz.
Volunteers talk to voters about Zimmer’s work on the Board, including a nutrition resolution passed to ensure children have enough time to sit and eat while at school, his experience as a former schoolteacher and his support of SB 48, the resolution that ensures “the school district is the leading voice to include the history of the gay, lesbian and transgender community,” Ruiz said.
Despite the fact the campaign is “obviously up against a lot of money,” Zimmer has endorsements from Planned Parenthood and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, among other organizations, said the upbeat Ruiz.
“It is the broad coalition that is coming together to say that we can do transformation of our school district,” Zimmer told his volunteers. “We can ensure excellence for all kids, and we can do it together.”