Jackie Goldberg Wins Decisive Victory in L.A. School Board Race

Veteran lawmaker Jackie Goldberg will return to the Los Angeles Unified school board after a resounding victory in the District 5 runoff election last week. With 71.27% of the vote, Goldberg coasted to the seat formerly occupied by Ref Rodriguez. Her opponent Heather Repenning garnered just 28.73% of the vote.

It’s hard to understate just how important Goldberg’s win could prove to be for the future of the board. The District 5 member could cast a decisive vote on a number of issues from LAUSD finances to the fate of Superintendent Austin Beutner.

On the district’s fiscal woes, Goldberg has expressed skepticism.

“Every year I was on the board, the budget department predicted that within three years, we’d be in a disaster,” she scoffed in an interview with EdSource. “This is not news.” 

Repenning, on the other hand, had acknowledged real financial difficulties facing LAUSD. District leaders have warned of insolvency if the current budget deficit cannot be closed.

On charters, Goldberg had taken a much more hardline — even combative — stance. Ditto for Austin Beutner, who Repenning had pledged to work with. If he’s not willing to follow the board’s direction, “he should go,” Goldberg has said.

Despite the significance of the District 5 seat, Tuesday’s voter turnout was abysmal as expected. Just 8.72% cast a vote for the critical swing seat, raising the question yet again: who is to blame for low voter turnout and how can we turn the situation around?

Goldberg is a highly experienced lawmaker and activist who served on the board from 1983 to 1991. She is also a former member of the Los Angeles City Council and served three terms in the California State Assembly.