McKenna, Johnson re-launch campaigns for school board seat
Yana Gracile | July 14, 2014
With less than a month before the runoff election for LAUSD’s district 1 board seat, the race between candidates George McKenna and Alex Johnson is heating up as both both candidates are re-launching their campaigns.
Over the weekend, McKenna, 74, a career school administrator, and Johnson, 33, an education aide to LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, held separate rallies to generate community support and answer questions about their campaigns.
Jewett Walker, McKenna’s campaign manager, told LA School Report that nearly 140 people gathered at McKenna headquarters, including Congresswoman Maxine Waters, representatives for Congresswoman Karen Bass and staff from the California School Employees Association (CSEA) Local 500.
“We thought we did a good job in mobilizing the community,” Walker said. “People were very enthusiastic.”
In fact, Jewett said, the event turned into an unexpected fundraiser. Over $7,000 in campaign contributions was collected, bringing the total of runoff campaign donations to more than $46,000. The largest amount, $1,100, came from CSEA and the rest from community donors.
With only five percent of voters expected to cast ballots, Jewett said the campaign intends to do what it can to re-energize voters, reminding them of the importance of every single vote.
“We’re going to call, we’re going to walk and we’re going to mail,” he said, adding that a low turnout can only benefit McKenna.
“Low turnout elections are skewed to older voters, who take it more seriously,” he said. “That favors us.”
Meanwhile, Johnson, who estimated 250 people attended his campaign kick off event held at his Crenshaw district campaign headquarters, said he will be reaching out to voters across the district to encourage them to go to the polls.
“We will execute a major Get Out The Vote effort in the latter days of July to persuade voters to cast ballots,” he said. “We want to make sure that everybody knows this is a special election in August, and not on the regular election day in November.”
Johnson said his runoff campaign involves organizing and motivating volunteers and executing an outreach effort to contact voters by phone or by visits to their homes to encourage them to vote by mail or at their polling places on election day.
“We have increased the amount of personal visits to voters in their neighborhoods,” he said. “We did a considerable amount of precinct walking during the primary election campaign. In the runoff, we are holding house parties to complement our door-to-door voter contacts.”
Johnson’s campaign kickoff event drew political leaders, union representatives and supporters, parent organizations and education advocates, a list that included Ridley-Thomas, state Assembly members Richard Bloom, Sebastian Ridley-Thomas (Mark’s son), L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson, L.A. City Councilman Curren D. Price, Jr. and retired Congresswoman Diane E. Watson.
Johnson says his campaign has raised nearly $60,000 for the runoff by the June 28 reporting deadline, and he’s making an aggressive effort to raise more to stay competitive.
In June’s election, McKenna won 44.3 percent of the vote to Johnson’s 24.7 percent, with five other candidates splitting the remaining votes.
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