An LA City Council Race Could Influence the Outcome of the LAUSD Parcel Tax

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

An interesting political circumstance to consider in the battle to pass Measure EE, the Los Angeles school parcel tax on the June 4 ballot, is that completely inside LAUSD boundaries is a special election to fill the Los Angeles City Council District 12 seat. Could the hotly contested city council race in the more conservative section of Los Angeles influence the outcome of Measure EE?

The use of the word “conservative” in the liberal bastion of Los Angeles is a relative term. Still the special election occurs in the district most recently held by Mitch Englander, the only Republican on the Los Angeles City Council.

While the district encompasses area in Congressional District 30, easily won by Democrat Brad Sherman, and Assembly District 45 captured handily by Democrat Jesse Gabriel, both of those districts also extend to the more liberal southern sections of the San Fernando Valley.

The northern section of the valley, which Council District 12 occupies, has had more closely contested races. While Assembly District 38 flipped in the last election to Democrat Christy Smith, she won by a narrow 3%. Within that assembly district, Gov. Gavin Newsom, a landslide winner statewide, barely edged his Republican opponent, John Cox, by 1%.

So, while the use of the term “conservative” has to be seasoned lightly, still the council district tends to support more conservative candidates. Further, special elections usually produce reduced voter turnout and conservatives tend to vote in stronger numbers in such elections.

The closely contested race to replace Englander is expected to increase turnout, certainly in greater numbers in other areas of the city where the school tax is the only measure to consider. One other candidate race on June 4 is to fill the State Senate District 33 seat. A portion of that senate district crosses into LAUSD boundaries, but turnout in that senate race is expected to be very low as Republican Jack Guerrero is not given a great chance to upset Democrat Lena Gonzalez in a district in which Democratic voters outnumber Republicans five to one. The Primary Election in that race saw 8% voter participation.

The non-partisan city council race has a greater chance to turn out voters and the entire council district is within the school district.

The parcel tax will have more money behind it and the high profile support of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and the good will teachers gained during the recent strike. In addition, the tax is written in such a way that an exemption from the tax is offered to seniors who vote in greater numbers and also tend to vote more conservatively.

Balanced against the advantages the Yes on Measure EE side enjoys is the fact that the tax requires a two-thirds vote to pass and a credible opposition campaign has been mounted by business and taxpayers organizations.

The contested City Council race in the northwest part of the city very well could play a significant role if the two-thirds vote for the parcel tax is not reached.

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