Scott Schmerelson Is The Apparent Winner Of LAUSD Board Race -- Despite Being Heavily Outspent
In the past two decades, no sitting Los Angeles school board member seeking re-election has ever found himself more badly outspent than Scott Schmerelson this year.
Charter school advocates targeted Schmerelson for defeat, outspending his teachers union supporters in the race by a nearly 6-to-1 margin, setting new records for spending in an LAUSD race.
Schmerelson appears to have won re-election anyway. Today, his opponent, Marilyn Koziatek, conceded the race for the LAUSD Board District 3 seat, which covers the west San Fernando Valley plus Studio City and Sherman Oaks.
The latest vote count showed her trailing Schmerelson by 7 percentage points -- or around 18,000 votes. More ballots remain to be counted, and Koziatek has whittled away at Schmerelson’s lead in the early vote counts, but probably not by margins she’d need to overtake him.
"This election had unprecedented voter turn-out," Koziatek wrote in a Facebook post, "and my volunteers and donors should share my pride in the more than 110,000 votes for me. While it wasn’t enough to win, it represents a terrific campaign that we should all be proud of."
Schmerelson’s apparent victory is a consolation prize for United Teachers Los Angeles. The teachers union needed to win both of Tuesday’s LAUSD races in order to secure a friendly majority on the school board, but the candidate UTLA had backed in the District 7 races conceded earlier this week.
But UTLA supporters will still have an ally on the board in Schmerelson, who shares the union’s concerns about the expansion of charter schools in Los Angeles.
LAUSD BD3 Spending At A Glance
Over the past year, the California Charter Schools Association spent more than $6.3 million trying to swing the race against Schmerelson — including more than $2.9 million on negative ads. Other than Schmerelson, only one other candidate in recent history has ever been hit by more negative advertising.
By comparison, UTLA was only able to muster just over $1.1 million to boost Schmerelson.
But in an interview on election night, Schmerelson said he felt the charter association’s negative ads had backfired.
Jenna Schwartz agreed. She's a Valley Village parent activist who helped raise money for Schmerelson and administers a Facebook group dominated by his supporters. She said:
A school board race should be about kids and teachers and schools. The fact that it’s become this partisan, divisive race is truly abhorrent. There’s no winners in that situation.
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