LA Unified School District board member Steve Zimmer was re-elected Tuesday night, despite the opposition effort from two mayors and big spending allies. Monica Garcia was also elected, and Antonio Sanchez faces a runoff in May for the third seat. Patrick Healy reports from North Hollywood for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on March 6, 2013.
It was a mixed bag of results in three LAUSD board seats that came before voters during Tuesday's primary election, according to preliminary results.
The one open seat on the Los Angeles Unified School District board is headed to the May 21 runoff, while incumbents Monica Garcia and Steve Zimmer earned enough votes to keep their seats in the other two contests.
The two re-elected school board members often fall on opposite sides of controversial issues – with pro-charter Garcia seen as a reform advocate, and with Zimmer more closely identified with union interests.
That leaves the results of the May 21 general election in the remaining race to give some indication of the balance on the board that oversees the nation's second-largest school district.
Complete Coverage: Decision 2013
The top vote-getter in the undecided contest for Board District 6 was Antonio Sanchez, who was backed by a big-spending pro-reform coalition that also supported Garcia and Zimmer's unsuccessful opponent, Kate Anderson. The Coalition for School Reform was begun by outgoing LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and favors Superintendent John Deasy.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg had contributed $1 million to the coalition's effort, which totalled some $3.8 million.
"I didn't even know which mayor I was running against," Zimmer said. "It was a bizarre, surreal experience."
Villaraigosa was disappointed his candidate lost, but said he believed Zimmer had promised to support Deasy.
"I was obviously a big supporter of Kate Anderson. I thought she was best able to support the progress we've made," Villaraigosa said.
In Board District 6, incumbent Nury Martinez had chosen not to run for a second term and instead is seeking to represent City Council District 6 in a May special election to replace Tony Cardenas, who is now in Congress.
Four hopefuls ran to replace Martinez represending the northeastern San Fernando Valley. Sanchez, a young former Villaraigosa staffer and labor organizer, earned 43.2 percent of the vote. He'll face off May 21 with attorney-turned-teacher Monica Ratliff, who earned support from 34.1 percent of voters.
Maria Cano got 13.6 percent of the Board District 6 vote, while Iris Zuñiga earned 9.2 percent.
Sanchez had the backing of powerful United Teachers Los Angeles in addition to the Coalition for School Reform.
"My door's not going to be closed to anyone -- the coalition or the UTLA. I think they both deserve to be at the table," Sanchez said.
School board President Garcia, an ally of Villaraigosa and a reform advocate who was up for a third term, retained her seat despite a field of four competitors and opposition from UTLA. In downtown LA-centered Board District 2, she earned 56 percent of the vote.
The remainder of the vote was fairly well divided among the challengers: Robert Skeels, 15.1 percent; Annamarie Montañez, 11.8 percent; Isabel Vazquez, 10.1 percent; and Abelardo Diaz, 7 percent.
Skeels, an activist, had unsuccessfully mounted a recall campaign against Garcia last year.
Steve Zimmer withstood a challenge from parent, attorney and activist Kate Anderson to maintain a hold on his westside and western San Fernando Valley seat representing Board District 4. Zimmer earned 52.1 percent of the vote, while Anderson received 47. 9 percent.
Zimmer had teachers union backing and was opposed by a well-funded reform coalition that supported his opponent as well as board president Garcia.
The Coalition for School Reform, a political action committee formed by Villaraigosa, had brought in some $3.8 million in support of Anderson, Garcia and Sanchez.
In the nine-campus Los Angeles Community College District, which often gets short shrift during election season, termed-out Assemblyman Mike Eng was elected to the board as was former East Los College president Ernest Moreno. Both received more than 60 percent of the vote in their respective two-way contests.
In the third LACCD seat that was before voters, David Vela was headed for a runoff with incumbent Nancy Pearlman. After a four-way contest, Vela earned 35.4 percent of the vote, while Pearlman's bid for a fourth term earned her nearly 29 percent.