The race for Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education was, and still is, a nail-biter.
Only incumbent Laurie Lieberman held much more than a percentage point lead on her competitors. In a race for four seats, just over 500 votes separate second place from fifth place, according to early results, and less than 300 separate fourth and fifth places.
If the semi-official results hold, incumbent Ralph Mechur will be the odd man out.
The Los Angeles County Registrar estimates there are 235,000 ballots left to be checked countywide but its not yet clear how many of those were cast in Santa Monica. The Daily Press should know how many were cast in Santa Monica by the end of the week. The county has 28 days to certify the results.
Lieberman cleared 11,300 votes. Challengers Craig Foster and Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein are placed second and third respectively with 9,087 and 9,061 votes.
Incumbent Oscar de la Torre is sitting in fourth with 8,795 votes to Mechur’s 8,531.
“I have to assume the results will hold at this point,” Mechur said. “It’s a pretty big jump.”
Mechur has sent congratulations to all the candidates ahead of him.
“We’ll see if there’s any change,” he said.
“I’m dissapointed,” Mechur said. “I stand on my record. People know I’ve done great work to support all kids and bring equity and access and opportunity to all of our kids.”
Foster is an advocate of Malibu schools and would be the first Malibu resident serving on the board since 2008.
Tahvildaran-Jesswein is a Santa Monica College professor and a co-chair of Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights, the cities largest political party.
He hopped around the city as results rolled in, watching the back-and-forth race while spending time with members of Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS), Unite Here Local 11, a hospitality workers union, and Lieberman.
“I’m really excited about the good works we’re going to accomplish together as a board and with the community,” he said. “I’m genuinely excited about that. I’m really grateful to the community. I’m really proud that we ran such a positive campaign. All seven of us.”
The Daily Press spoke with Foster earlier in the night.
“I’d already be asleep, everybody’s gone home, except I’m sitting here with my campaign manager and wife just talking,” he said. “Normally, I’d just go to bed and see what happens in the morning.”
Board of Education member Ben Allen won election to the State Senate in a landslide, beating reproductive rights activist Sandra Fluke.
Allen’s ascension to Sacramento is interesting for Santa Monicans not only because he’s a native son but because it opens up a fifth seat on the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education. That seat will likely be filled through an appointment process run by the four candidates who wind up winning election and the two other members of the board: Maria Leon-Vazquez and Jose Escarce.
Mechur said that if the Ed Board results hold, he be interested seeking appointment to that open seat.