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Proposal To Make LAUSD Candidates Eligible For Public Campaign Funding Introduced At City Council

Two brown-skinned women appear in large photographs on campaign mailers printed with statements like, 'Vote Democrat María Brenes for school board" or "Dr. Rocío Rivas is the education leader our Los Angeles schools urgently need."
Most of these mailers in the race for the L.A. Unified School District's Board District 2 seat were paid for by outside groups, not the candidates themselves.
(Photo illustration by Kyle Stokes
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A city council member officially introduced legislation on Wednesday to laying the groundwork for a program that, if enacted, would allow candidates in Los Angeles Unified school board races to use public money to help run their campaigns.

What happened: Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell formally introduced a motion asking city officials to study opening L.A.'s "matching funds" program to candidates in LAUSD elections, likely through a ballot measure in 2024. Councilmembers Paul Krekorian and Curren Price seconded the motion.

The backstory: L.A. is on the brink of overhauling its electoral system in the wake of the City Hall audio scandal. Council members have already started the process to place a measure on the 2024 ballot creating an independent panel to re-draw local election districts, including for LAUSD board seats. O'Farrell's motion, if enacted, would add an expansion of the matching funds program to this overhaul.

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Why it matters: Most city council candidates take part in the matching funds program, in which the city pays candidates $6 for every matchable dollar they raise, within certain limits. This makes it easier for candidates without big-money backing to mount serious campaigns. Right now, LAUSD candidates have no such program, meaning special interest groups — charter school advocates in particular, and teachers unions to a lesser-but-still-significant extent — dominate school board elections.

Go deeper: We covered this proposal when O'Farrell first floated it earlier this month.