By Zamná Ávila, Assistant Editor
The low-turnout race yielded Vladovic his largest margin going in to his third term in office. He received 9,282 votes out of 16,600 (55.91 percent), compared to 44.08 percent garnered by his opponent, Lydia Gutierrez.
The election was amidst a federal grand jury investigation into a technology program that took place in 2014, a search for a new superintendent and negotiations with United Teachers Los Angeles.
A retired educator who has worked as a principal, social studies teacher, administrator and superintendent for the West Covina Unified School District, Vladovic drew the support of political action committees from pro-charter advocates and labor groups. However, Vladovic would not say whether he agreed or disagreed with charter schools due to state law, which states that approval of charters must take place if they demonstrate they are fully funded and have a solid education system.
Gutierrez, by contrast, opposes charter schools. She believes a school must first fail in order to transition to a charter.
In February, Vladovic said he supported raising teachers’ salaries more than 4 percent but was not more specific because he was part of the collective bargaining process.
His campaign website describes him as an advocate for smaller schools who fights to take schools off year-round calendars. It also describes him as a champion for the arts, “building and sustaining mentorship and dropout prevention programs.” One of Vladovic’s top priorities was to convince the California legislature to increase education funding.
On her website, however, Gutierrez wrote that LAUSD “is poorly run in three areas: finances, administration and lack of academic goals…” In fact, she accused the district of misusing funds and lacking oversight of money during a Feb. 6 debate, noting the $139 million in payouts to child abuse scandal victims and the new MiSiS computer system that reportedly cost millions of dollars to fix. She also heavily criticized the district’s billion dollar iPad controversy.
Gutierrez did not have major endorsements or campaign money. The teacher-turned-aerospace-industry administrator was endorsed by the Los Angeles County Republican Party and Election Forum, an evangelical Christian group. She reported $37,844 in campaign contributions and $39,799.19 in expenditures as of May 13.
She finished the 2015 March 3 primary only five percentage points behind Vladovic. Both candidates were challenged by a third candidate, Euna Anderson.
The 2015 election was not Gutierrez’ first run in education politics. In 2014 and 2010, she ran as a candidate for the California Superintendent of Public Instruction seat and lost. In 2008, Gutierrez ran for the California State Senate in District 25 as a Republican. She won in the Republican primary but lost in the general election.