Marshall High School teacher and activist Steve Zimmer was celebrating a win Wednesday as the newest member of the Los Angeles
Unified School District Board of Education, while Cal State Northridge teacher Louis Pugliese -- who appeared to be cruising to victory early -- was suddenly losing a tight race.
Zimmer defeated Fairfax High School teacher and former business executive Mike Stryer to claim the Fourth District seat, which represents much of West Los Angeles and stretches into Hollywood and the southeastern portion of the San Fernando Valley.
Zimmer was backed financially by the teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles, and had the endorsement of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who gained a majority of backers on the school board two years ago and will retain that majority after today's election.
In the Sixth District, which includes the eastern part of the San Fernando Valley, Pugliese jumped to a large early lead over former San Fernando City Councilwoman Nury Martinez. But as results trickled in throughout the night, Martinez closed the gap and overtook Pugliese early Wednesday. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Martinez had a lead of 482 votes.
The final results of the election may not be known for days, or possibly up to three weeks, as the City Clerk's Office tallies thousands of late vote-by-mail ballots, provisional ballots, write-in votes and questioned ballots. It was unclear early Wednesday exactly how many ballots remain to be counted, but the clerk's office received about 9,000 vote-by-mail ballots on Tuesday alone that still need to be tallied.
School Board President Monica Garcia was unopposed and was reelected in the Second District.
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Garcia, Zimmer and the winner between Pugliese and Martinez will be helping to lead a district mired in financial trouble. Superintendent Ramon Cortines reported recently that the district is facing a budget deficit of about $894 million for the coming year. The school board is expected to vote next week on a proposal to send layoff warning notices to as many as 10,000