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Expensive Los Angeles School Board Election Sends Two Seats to Runoff

Two of the three seats in the hotly-contested Los Angeles school board elections are heading for May runoffs, including the seat held by current board president Steve Zimmer.

Zimmer, who got 47.49 percent of the vote in his District 4 race, according to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk's office, is expected to face Nick Melvion in a runoff. Melvion, who is backed by charter school advocates, received 31.22 percent of the ballots cast, according to preliminary results from the county clerk's office.

Charter school growth is a key issue in Los Angeles, where about 16 percent of students attend charters, according to the Los Angeles Times.

According to the Los Angeles Times, by March 5 the United Teachers Los Angeles had spent about $1.8 million on the election, with the majority of the money going to Zimmer's contest. Groups supporting pro-charter candidates were expected to spend about $3 million on the three races.   

Former Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan donated $1 million to the campaign to defeat Zimmer and $1 million to the California Charter Schools Association, the Los Angeles Times reported.

A runoff between the two top candidates is triggered if no one clears the 50 percent mark.

A six-way race in District 6, which featured no incumbent, is also headed for a runoff. Kelly Fitzpatrick-Gonez, who teaches at a charter school and was backed by charter school advocates, was ahead with 36.13 percent of the vote. Gonez will likely face Imelda Padilla, a community organizer who was supported by the district's teachers' union and came in second in Tuesday's poll, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Monica Garcia, who has been the on school board since 2006, was re-elected with 57. 72 percent of the vote, according to the county clerk's office.

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