🗳 November 2020 Ballot Analysis – The People

One of the key hallmarks of this election season will be the need to vote early (and not, as Trump says, to vote often). So to that end, I’m beginning my ballot analysis as early as possible.This post looks at the candidates for the legislature, other state-wide offices, and local offices. I’m not covering the Presidential election in this post: you probably know where I stand on that one, and I don’t believe there is anything that could get me to vote any way that furthers the term in office of the current occupant of the Oval Office. B”H 2020.

But as for the other offices… note that for most of these, we’ve seen the matchups before from the primary, I’m only revisiting that assessment if my candidate from then is no longer on the ballot, or if events have caused a reassessment of my position. ° indicates an analysis repeated from my primary analysis in March 2020.

US House District № 30: Brad Sherman (D) (Inc) vs Mark Reed (R)

The Candidates:

  • Brad Sherman (FB) (D) (Inc)°: Brad Sherman has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1997, meaning he has seniority, and through seniority, wields power. He is a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and serves as the senior Democrat on the Subcommittee on Asia. He is also a senior member of the Financial Services Committee. During his tenure in Congress, Sherman has developed a reputation as a strong advocate for fiscal responsibility, a balanced budget, federal aid to education, the interests of working families, strong environmental standards, the protection of Social Security and Medicare, and policies to expand U.S. exports. Before joining Congress, he served on the California State Board of Equalization from 1991 to 1996. He was Chairman of the Board from 1991 to 1995. Before that, Sherman was on staff at one of the nations’ big-four CPA firms. Sherman is a Tax Law Specialist and a CPA. He received a Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude. Sherman was also an accounting tutor during his time at UCLA. Later he received his law degree from Harvard, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude. Note how none of the other candidates provided this level of detail on their backgrounds, nor have this extensive of a background.In terms of issues, I’ve been following Sherman for years, and have agreed with most of the time. I did favor Howard Berman when Sherman and Berman’s districts were combined, but I’ve been pleased to become a Sherman constituent.  In short, I like what Sherman has done, and no one has convinced me that another candidate is better.
  • Mark S. Reed (FB) (R)°: Here’s what I wrote about Reed when he ran in 2018: Mark S. Reed (FB) (R) is the most viable candidate against Brad Sherman, at least in terms of votes. So maybe he’s a lawyer who will know how to work the halls of Congress, or have some special magic experience. Nope. His experience is “After graduation from El Camino Real High School in 1975, Reed studied Architectural Drafting at Pierce Jr. College from 1976-1978. Reed, age 57, is a successful actor, small businessman, rancher and an advocate for constitutional government as specified by our Founding Fathers. After working in management positions for several years, he bought his first company at age 26 and opened a small retail store. He sold both and bought out his second company at age 32.  He has sat on the board of directors of several companies, chaired many national committees and currently sits on the board of directors of the CAB at KCET.” He’s not that there in the experience or background market. In 2020, none of that has changed, according to his bio page.At least he no longer panders to the Jewish vote on his real front page, which is buried with his newsletter. There he complains about the National Debt, which seems to go against Republican values now, which are spend, spend, spend. Other than that, I’ve looked through all the pages on his website. He seems to have moderated views: he seems to support some form of gun regulation, and is not obviously pro-Trump or evangelical. But his page just doesn’t convince me that he has the depth of background for Congress, or the right ideas in the right areas.

Conclusion: ☑ Brad Sherman (FB)

California State Senate District № 27: Henry Stern (D) (Inc) vs Houman Salem (R)

The Candidates:

  • Henry Stern (FB) (D) (Inc)°: Stern is the current state senator, elected in 2016. He doesn’t have a campaign website, relying on his district website, but he does have a fundraising page.  This also means he has no website where he talks about his positions on the various issues. According to the VC Star, Stern (37) is an environmental attorney and former senior adviser to Fran Pavley when she was a state senator for the area. Stern’s major focus is on fire resilience. Other goals include addressing the housing and homelessness crisis, creating the first California climate change bond and establishing a mandatory public service program for young people. He has introduced bills to address PG&E and SCE power shutoffs. He voted no on SB50; I’m not sure how I feel about that one.  Stern has a fair number of somewhat predictable endorsements.
  • Houman Salem (FB) (R)°: Salem is the oldest son of Iranian immigrants. Raised in Chatsworth, attended CSUN and Pepperdine, and is the founder and CEO of a Fashion Design house. He has six primary issues on his website: Homelessness, Prop 13, AB5 and its impacts, immigration, water capture and delivery, and education. None of his positions are as far right as Trump (a good thing), but there are problematic hints. For example, on Education, he writes: “Parents must have the ability to choose from a variety of options with regards to their child’s education.  From a quality public school, private school, charter school, or if desired, home school.  Additionally, parents must not be forced to have their child’s education be indoctrinated with age inappropriate and overly sexualized content.  A young child’s education must not be the domain of a political agenda.” This strikes me as arguing against strong support for public schools.  On AB5, he writes, “The government must never complicate an individual’s rights to earn a living. “The sense I get from reading his pages is a strong libertarian bent, which could be appealing to the Conservatives in this district. But I’m not conservative. Looking at his answers on Ballotpedia gives more information: “We must not continue to give up our freedoms to the government. Money is an instrument of freedom, and the more of it we give to the government, the less freedom we have as individuals.”. If you’ve ready my view on taxes, this goes squarely against that.

    Additionally, reading his Facebook makes it clear he’s in the Trump camp, and has enjoyed the Kool-Aide. His website only lists GOP endorsements and the Howard Jarvis groups. Plus, he has all these major logos at the bottom such as the LA Times and NPR, implying their endorsements, but they lead nowhere. That’s misleading.

Analysis°: Oh, how I wish Henry Stern had a campaign website touting his experience, and summarizing his positions on the issues and his legislative goals. That would make it easy to support him. Without it, I get the sense he just wants to coast to another term, depending on the overall Democratic nature of California to sweep him into office (perhaps due to the alignment of his district). And it may, because I don’t hold as much value alignment with his opponent — especially as it relates to Prop 13, Education, or his view on taxes. That lack of alignment … and the lack of other candidates, leads me to a “hold your nose” conclusion.

Conclusion: ☑ Henry Stern (FB)

California State Assembly District № 45: Jesse Gabriel (D) (Inc) vs Jeffi Girgenti (R)

The Candidates:

  • Jesse Gabriel (FB) (D) (Inc): Back in the primary, Gabriel was running unopposed. I did note he updated his website for 2020, and I’ve been reasonably satisfied with his work. He has generally been effective in the state assembly, and has strong experience.
  • Jeffi Girgenti (R): From out of nowhere, Girgenti has been recruited to run against Gabriel. Her webpage notes that she is against AB5 (Gig Workers), wants to protect Prop 13, and wants to reform Prop 47 (criminal justice reform). She’s a small business owner, with no public office experience.  Her other main issue is parental rights.  She doesn’t have that much more on her issues page.

Conclusion: ☑ Jesse Gabriel (FB)

Los Angeles County District Attorney: Jackie Lacey (Inc) vs George Gascón

The Candidates:

  • Jackie Lacey (FB) (Inc)°: Lacey is the incumbent in the race, and unsurprisingly, has a wide swath of endorsements from public safety organizations (police, fire) and elected officials (although that likely changed after George Floyd). She’s also a minority woman in a major public office — great for diversity. According to the LAist guide, she is a career prosecutor who rose up the ranks in the LA DA’s office. She started a line prosecutor in 1986, and over the years headed the major crimes and major narcotics units and the Central Operations Bureau. In 2011 she was elevated to Chief Deputy DA — the No. 2 position in the department. She was elected DA in 2012 and was re-elected in 2016. She is the first woman and the first African American DA in L.A. County.Lacey touts her establishment of a mental health division in her office to work on diverting people with mental health issues away from jail. Lacey also set up a Conviction Review Unit to assess claims of actual innocence based on newly discovered evidence. She supports bail reform but not the outright abolition of cash bail. She still seeks the death penalty for “the worst of the worst offenders, including child murderers and serial killers,” a spokeswoman said in a statement last year. However, in general, she has largely approached the job as a traditional tough-on-crime prosecutor. This explains the endorsements from the public safety crowd.

    One thing her opponent, George Gascon, highlighted in the LA Magazine article is telling: “The distinction between Jackie Lacey and myself is that I have supported efforts to create legislation that would reform [laws related to officer-involved shootings], where she has opposed it or remained silent on it. The other part is in the other areas, where the law is more conducive to being the application of prosecution when it’s necessary, like other than shootings, but in other areas like excessive force with baton use or other stuff, we have prosecuted those cases, Jackie Lacey doesn’t. So we prosecuted 22 or 23 law enforcement officers in the last few years from those areas, when we could. She hasn’t.” This is a growing concern in a city where there is increased scrutiny of the treatment of minority groups by the police. Our justice system — in both the law enforcement and the courts — must be unbiased focusing on the neutral application of the law without excessive force.

    Lacey has another problem. According to the LA Times, “[one of] the major issues confronting Lacey is her office’s ongoing use of the death penalty. An ACLU report issued this year identified 22 people who were sentenced to death while Lacey has been in office, and all of those defendants were people of color. Candidates opposing Lacey have said capital punishment cases are costly to prosecute and risk executing innocent people. Lacey has said in response that her office sought the death penalty in less than 3% of eligible cases last year, following an extensive review, and that California voters have twice failed to abolish capital punishment.”

    On other issues, Lacey has similar positions to Gascon, although she does highlight her work to protect seniors and to fight against cybercrime. But you do get much more of the sense of a “tough on crime” DA.

  • George Gascon (FB)Gascon is a former progressive San Francisco DA attempting to bring his ideas to Los Angeles. According to LA Magazine, he resigned his post in San Francisco on 10/3/19, and moved back to L.A. County to help his mother (who is dealing with dementia) and to be closer to his daughters. He grew up in Cudahy and started his career as an LAPD beat cop. After learning the state of the DA’s office here, he wanted to bring the same criminal justice reform he had up north here. According to the LA Times, Gascon has earned a reputation as one of the nation’s most forward-thinking law enforcement officials. While police chief in Mesa, Ariz., he spent years battling Sheriff Joe Arpaio over what critics called brutal and humiliating treatment of suspects and immigrant detainees. After a brief stint as San Francisco’s police chief, Gascon was appointed district attorney, championing a number of causes aimed at reducing prison populations and trying to rectify disparate enforcement against people of color. He wants to get rid of cash bail, and work to reduce prison populations by getting more people the mental health treatment they need.  The LAist Guide notes that he co-authored Prop. 47, which reduced some non-violent felonies to misdemeanors. He says he would be willing to consider some sort of independent special prosecutor to investigate police shootings.His issues page shows that he has successfully tackled sexual assault, environmental issues, law enforcement overreach, corruption, and fought for the victim.

    But Gascon has his own set of problems. He has not been endorsed by his former bosses in San Francisco; Mayor London Breed has endorsed Lacey. Why? According to the LA Times, “she blamed Gascón and his posture of reform for the rash of car break-ins and other street problems that have dogged San Francisco, even as the city experienced a sharp drop in violent crime. While naming an interim prosecutor to take over after Gascón stepped down to run in L.A., Breed maintained there was growing frustration for “the endless cycle of people getting arrested for dealing drugs, or breaking into cars, only to be released back out on the streets.”” Gascon responds that they prosecuted about 85% of those cases, and in many, the SFPD failed to get solid suspects. The Times reports taht Gascon posits that the real reason for the animosity is “Breed’s endorsement of his opponent stemmed from personal animus. In 2014, Breed requested that Gascón examine the case of her brother, who is serving 44 years in prison for manslaughter, to see if his time behind bars could be reduced, the San Francisco Chronicle reported earlier this month. Gascón’s office reviewed the file but identified no irregularities that warranted reopening the case, the newspaper reported.”

    He is endorsed by the LA Democratic party and numerous other Democratic organizations, the Daily News and its family of papers, a large number of minority groups, politicians, and DAs.

Analysis°: Back during the primary, this one had a lot of analysis:

So looking at the question of Gascon vs Lacey: Both have been DAs, and both have the experience. However, I think the reforms discussed by Gascon are sorely needed in the LA County DA’s office. There needs to be more prosecution of misbehaving public safety officers, and there needs to be more consideration of privilege in prosecution (i.e., elimination of cash bail, which helps the wealthy get out and impacts financially-distressed people more, looking at uneven prosecution based on socio-economic factors, etc.). I’m also concerned about the fact that Lacey is going for the death penalty disproportionately for people of color. As such, I have come to think a change may be appropriate in the DA’s office.

But then again, I have folks in the Bay Area who are reporting problems with San Francisco under Gascon. So I looked into the issue further. I found an interesting article in the publication Mission Local about the legacy of Gascon in the Bay Area. They note that Gascon may “be the most progressive DA this city has ever had. Whether it’s moving away from cash bail, de-emphasizing incarceration for nonviolent offenders, reintegrating prisoners into society, pushing for funds to be invested in mental health services instead of jails, expunging marijuana convictions, or advocating for undocumented immigrants, Gascón’s c.v. is full of things San Francisco voters ought to like.” But then they note that a lot of people don’t like him. They write:

Gascón’s problem, or at least one of them, was that he was never able to define himself — to the media, to voters, and, not insignificantly, to the City Family that runs this town — as the guy who pushed for all of the above. Rather, to the city’s left, focused to the exception of all else on police shootings, he was the guy who, repeatedly, failed to bring charges against killer cops. To the city’s right, he was the guy who, resplendently, fumbled the Kate Steinle shooting case. All the while, Gascón was caught up in a series of running battles with his successors atop the San Francisco Police Department and their bellicose union — which, to too many, came off as an internecine pissing contest undertaken while the rest of the city trudged through streets ankle deep in shattered car windows.

That echos what I heard from a few bay area folks. Now Gascon wants to come to Los Angeles and reform the LA District Attorney’s office. To the appeal.org website, Gascon said, “The problem is that LA County has come to a place where they use the most expensive and the most intrusive tools of the criminal justice system to deal with every behavior, and that is prosecution and incarceration.” The article goes on:

He made the case that some behaviors—including sex work, and acts like public urination that are associated with homelessness or mental illness—should not be criminalized or prosecuted.

When it comes to behaviors that are no more than a “nuisance” to others, he argued prosecution harms public safety. It hurts the people targeted and their families, replaces other “interventions” such as treatment, and distracts from investments in “education, public parks, and other activities that are more likely to create safer and healthier communities over a longer period of time.”

The alternative, Lacey, has her share of problems. An ACLU release notes: “A new ACLU report reveals troubling racial bias, unfairness, and overuse of the death penalty in Los Angeles under District Attorney Jackie Lacey’s watch.  […] During her almost seven-year tenure as District Attorney of the county, Jackie Lacey has sent 22 people to death row. These sentences have been characterized by racial bias — every single one of the 22 people was a person of color — as well as serious concerns regarding the quality of lawyers who represented defendants who couldn’t afford private counsel. Out of the 22 cases, nine defendants had lawyers who were previously or subsequently disbarred, suspended or charged with misconduct. A tenth defendant had a lawyer who repeatedly fell asleep through his trial.” An article from The Appeal notes additional problems with Lacey: “Los Angeles still leads the country in law enforcement shooting deaths. And last year it had the second-highest death toll for police shootings in the nation after Phoenix, which had 21. Black residents are disproportionately victims—24 percent of the deaths but only 9 percent of the county’s population. And since 2000, only one member of law enforcement has been charged for killing a civilian. […] Since taking office in 2012, Lacey hasn’t charged a single LAPD officer for a shooting. According to Black Lives Matter LA, over 400 people have been killed by law enforcement or died in custody in the county during Lacey’s tenure. But she has charged only one man, Luke Liu, a deputy in the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, for shooting an unarmed man while on duty.”. That article goes on to note:

But Lacey has largely disappointed those who looked to the new, Black, female and Democratic district attorney to enact change. And, over time, once progressive prosecution ideas have become mainstream and Lacey seems woefully behind, in the model of the same tough-on-crime DA that residents had experienced for decades. Lex Steppling, the director of campaigns and policy for Dignity and Power Now, described Lacey as “a Black woman who claimed her roots openly and publicly, but has carried on the same racist, deadly legacy that preceded her.”

So, ultimately, the question comes down to: Do we stick with a DA that is light on prosecuting problematic officers and shows some racial bias in prosecution, but is strong generally on pursuing prosecution, or do we attempt to reform the office yet with someone who may be less inclined to prosecute the lower value crimes — meaning possibly more visible vandalism goes unprosecuted. Note also that this is in the period where we are leading up to the 2028 Olympics. I think, given the problems with Lacey, I’m inclined to go for the reformer.

Looking at that analysis in light of the events of Spring and Summer 2020, this election becomes even more significant. We have seen the problems with systematic racism in the LA Sheriff’s office and the LAPD. So, again, “the question comes down to: Do we stick with a DA that is light on prosecuting problematic officers and shows some racial bias in prosecution, but is strong generally on pursuing prosecution, or do we attempt to reform the office yet with someone who may be less inclined to prosecute the lower value crimes — meaning possibly more visible vandalism goes unprosecuted.” Further, consider that those “lower value” crimes often put people of color behind bars.

Conclusion: ☑ George Gascon (FB)

Superior Court Office № 72: Myanna Dellinger vs Steve Morgan

The Candidates:

  • Myanna Dellinger (FB)°: Dellinger is a confusing paradox. Dellinger is a Danish-American law professor, climate change and international law specialist, and Fulbright Scholar. She’s been an instructor at USD, and has authored loads of papers that have influenced the law. She does podcasts on the law, and appears to be well respected. She has a small but respectable number of endorsements. Yet the LA County Bar rated her as “not qualified”. Why? All I can figure is that her experience is more academic, and they wanted more experience in court and in the community.
  • Steve Morgan (FB)°: Morgan is a Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney, Major in the Army JAG Corps, and law professor at Abraham Lincoln University Law School. As a DDA, Jacobs has prosecuted murders, child molesters, domestic violence and other violent crimes as well as complex white-collar crimes in courthouses throughout the county. He is rated well qualified by the LA County Bar Association. He has a large number of endorsements.

Analysis: Much as I think Dellinger is an extremely smart candidate and could bring more diversity the court, her lack of court experience and her rating knock her out of the running. Morgan is more experienced with a broad range of cases and is highly rated

Conclusion: ☑ Steve Morgan (FB)

Superior Court Office № 80: David Berger vs Klint McKay

The Candidates:

  • David A. Berger (FB)°: Berger has run for Superior Court Judge a number of times before. Berger holds law degrees from the University of London and Loyola Law School Los Angeles. During his second year at Loyola, Berger started an externship at the LA County District Attorney’s Office as a Certified Law Clerk. Berger was the first Certified Law Clerk to conduct a multi-count felony jury trial, securing six guilty verdicts for residential burglary. After graduating from Loyola, Berger was hired as a Salaried Law Clerk, assigned to the Major Crimes Division where he worked until being hired as a Deputy District Attorney. Voters Edge enumerates his experience as follows: Deputy District Attorney, LA County District Attorney’s Office (2010–current); Special Assistant City Attorney, City of Los Angeles (2009–2010); Deputy District Attorney, LA County District Attorney’s Office (1998–2009); Salaried Law Clerk, LA County District Attorney’s Office (1997–1998); Senior Law Clerk, LA County District Attorney’s Office (1996–1997). Metnews notes that this is his third bid for a judgeship, but there are some significant differences this time around. In both 2016 and 2018 he was running against female candidates, and a push for diversity on the court hurt him. He also had to deal with what seems to be a grudge from the Bar Association related to his having a blog. They gave him a “Not Qualified” in 2016 and 2018 because they were upset by what he wrote (for details, see my 2016 judicial analysis) — now he is rated Qualified. Since the 2018 election, Berger has been assigned to the Victim Impact Program (‘VIP’) in Van Nuys, which provides vertical prosecution in cases involving particularly vulnerable victims such as children who have been subject to sexual or physical abuse, elders who have been victims of financial or physical abuse, as well as adult victims of sexual abuse, stalking and domestic violence. This has exposed him to more challenging legal issues.”Back in 2018, he was endorsed by the LA Times and by MetNews, who noted at the time that “he has the potential of becoming one of the court’s stellar members. He is even-tempered, highly articulate, and dignified. He grasps arguments quickly and knows the law, enabling him to decide matters without pondering.” He has a large number of endorsements, including the MetNews endorsement.
  • Klint James McKay (FB)°: McKay is an Administrative Law Judge for the Department of Social Services. For someone who supposedly knows administrative law, he had a very muddled filing history when he last ran for a judgeship. Somewhat surprisingly, he was rated as “Well Qualified” by the LA County Bar Association. He didn’t provide any information to Voter’s Edge. He has a very small number of endorsements — none of whom are judges.

Analysis: Back in March, I wrote: All of the candidates are qualified and not immediately dismissable. McKay is the weakest, not being local to Los Angeles and only dealing with administrative law. That leaves the battle between Rini and Berger. I think Berger has the edge on experience, organization, and qualifications. I particular noted the following in the Metnews article on Berger: “Mr. Berger has developed his own. highly effective, ‘paperless’ system for keeping track of cases assigned to him. All phases of prosecution, from initial presentation, follow-up investigation, case filing, case-settlement or trial, exist both in the traditional DA file, as well as on his iPad. In this way he is able to handle the heavy caseload of his assignment effectively and efficiently, thereby ensuring that he can make all his court appearances, respond to discovery requests, and request appropriate follow-up investigation in a timely manner. In addition to handling assigned cases, Mr. Berger has taken the time to develop solid working relationships with law enforcement agencies so that they have a better idea of what is expected of them in order to deliver cases that can be evaluated and either appropriately filed, referred or declined. Detectives working with Mr. Berger know that they can contact him outside working hours so that their in-custody filings are handled thoroughly, accurately, and without delay.” Berger also has a much greater depth of endorsements. Third time is the charm, and all that rot.

Conclusion: ☑ David A. Berger (FB)

Superior Court Office № 162: David Diamond vs. Scott Yang

The Candidates:

  • David D. Diamond (FB)°: Diamond appears to be in private practice as a Criminal Defense Attorney. He has been a lawyer for 20 years, and according to his webpage, has a wide array of experience in the courtroom, having litigated criminal, civil, and family law matters in the Los Angeles Superior Court. He states that he is a State Bar Certified, Criminal Law Specialist and served as the Chairperson of the Burbank Police Commission, as well as a Temporary Judge for the Los Angeles Superior Court. Metnews has problems with how Diamond is representing himself. He is profiled on the MetNews site, but they focus on the whole misrepresentation thing and not his qualifications. He has a fair number of judicial endorsements. He is rated Well Qualified by the LA County Bar Association.
  • Scott Andrew Yang (FB)°: Yang, who seems to have a second campaign website as well, is not the Andrew Yang that was running for President. Scott Yang is currently a Deputy District Attorney assigned to the Sex Crimes Division, where he is known for not only his record as a strong criminal prosecutor, but as an advocate for victims and families. Previously, Scott worked for the Los Angeles County District Attorney in the Juvenile Crimes unit and has prosecuted cases ranging from domestic violence to child abuse, murder and other criminal offenses. He has a large list of endorsements, and is rated “Well Qualified” by the LA County Bar Assn. Metnews notes that one Los Angeles Superior Court judge who has observed him asserts that Yang is “not ready for the bench,” terming him a “very, very nice guy” but possessed of an “average, at best, legal mind” and “NOT respected as a legal scholar, strong advocate or skilled lawyer.” They also note, however, that Yang’s past three annual office evaluations lend him the rating of “Exceeded Expectations (Very Good).”

Analysis: This final judicial battle comes down to two well qualified candidates: one a prosecutor, one a criminal defense attorney. But each of the candidates has their problems as well: Yang has been viewed by some as less skilled; the website for Diamond’s firms comes across like one of those cheesy defense lawyer websites. Still, it is useful to get a mix of defense and prosecution on the bar. Diamond, at least, seems to have the criminal background necessary for the court, as well as a good breadth of experience.

Conclusion: ☑ David D. Diamond (FB)

LAUSD Board of Education District № 3: Scott Mark Schmerelson (Inc) vs Marilyn Koziatek

The Candidates:

  • Scott Mark Schmerelson (FB) (Inc) °: Schmerelson is the incumbent board member. He’s endorsed by all the Democratic clubs (even though he used to be a Republican and changed his affiliation post-Trump), and the all important Teachers Union, UTLA. He has the LA Times endorsement, a number of other school unions, and the other board members. He seems to be the establishment candidate. His background is more as a teacher than as a parent.The fellow who brought up the potential financial improprieties of Koziatek has a good piece as well on Schmerelson. Essentially, it provides his history, and explains how the Charter school supporters — and especially the folks at Granada Hills CHS complex — are gunning for him. This explains Koziatek’s place in the election, her dearth of endorsements, and some of her backstory. He has a small issues page.
  • Marilyn Koziatek (FB)°: Koziatek is the mother of two young boys who attend their neighborhood elementary school in Chatsworth, and she’s part of the leadership team at Granada Hills Charter High School. She also chairs the Education Committee for the Valley Industry Commerce Association and sits on the 38th Assembly Education Advisory Committee. Her position at Granada has lead to some charges of financial improprieties from Patch (written by a past candidate who had Charter support and ran against Schmerelson).  There’s a long interview with her over on SpeakUpParent that is worth reading. She clearly wants to bring the parent’s view to the board, is dissatisfied with Schmerelson (partially, it seems, because he vetoed Granada’s expansion), and wants to bring some of the innovations at Granada (such as improved communication and more modern education standards) to the rest of the district.She has a small number of endorsements, including the LA Daily News and the Charter Schools Association.

Analysis: Koziatek is correct when she indicates that we really need a parent on the LA Unified board. Unfortunately, from what I’ve read, she isn’t it. Koziatek seems to serve the Charter interests too closely; I’d worry about her serving them to the detriment of the non-charter schools. That leaves Schmerelson, the incumbent. I don’t always like to give into the power of the UTLA, and I don’t like the fact that he voted for Trump (although he does have a large number of Democratic endorsements, so perhaps he’s learned the error of his ways). Further, although I like his teaching experience, I don’t like that fact that his teaching wasn’t predominately in the Board District he serves. Yet by process of elimination, he’s the best candidate.

Conclusion: ☑ Scott Mark Schmerelson (FB)