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LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- An educator/attorney narrowly defeated a former assistant to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to win a seat on the Los Angeles Unified School District board, according to unofficial election results released today.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Monica Ratliff had 51.9 percent of the vote, giving her a 1,464-vote advantage over former Villaraigosa aide Antonio Sanchez, 31.
Sanchez was the top vote-getter in the March primary and easily raised more money than Ratliff. He benefited financially from the support of the Coalition for School Reform, the action committee created by Villaraigosa, and was also backed heavily by unions, including the Los Angeles County Federation
of Labor and the Service Employees International Union.
Sanchez was a vocal supporter of Superintendent John Deasy, solidifying his support in Villaraigosa's camp.
But Ratliff, 43, impressed many factions with her experience as a teacher and attorney, and she earned endorsements from the Los Angeles Times and Daily News. She has taught third, fourth and fifth grades at a school in downtown Los Angeles, and previously worked as an attorney with Neighborhood Legal Services in Pacoima.
Courtni Pugh, executive director of Service Employees International Union Local 99, which represents about 45,000 education workers across Southern California, said she was disappointed Sanchez lost but looked forward to working with Ratliff.
"We believe education is a community effort and will continue to address the many issues inside and outside the classroom that impact a child's success in school," she said.
Ratliff will replace Nury Martinez, who is giving up her seat to run for City Council. United Teachers Los Angeles, the union the represents LAUSD teachers, endorsed both candidates and did not play an active role in the runoff campaign.
Meanwhile, incumbent Nancy Pearlman was re-elected on the Los Angeles Community College Board of Trustees in the runoff race for Seat 6. She was challenged by David Vela, a member of the Montebello Unified School District board.
The LACCD board is struggling with accreditation issues at some of its campuses and working to rebuild confidence in its multibillion-dollar construction program following discoveries of fiscal mismanagement.