An initial count of early vote-by-mail ballots put school board president Monica Garcia in the lead with 54 percent of the vote. She'll need over 50 percent of the vote if she wants to avoid a costly runoff with the second place finisher.

Robert Skeels is in second place with 20 percent, followed by Annamarie Montanez with 10 percent, Isabel Vazquez with 9 percent, and Abelardo Diaz with 6 percent.

Garcia, a close ally of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and supporter of Superintendent John Deasy, enjoys the backing of the Coalition for School Reform as well as the SEIU, which represents LAUSD classified workers.

The teachers union, curiously, has endorsed three candidates: Skeels, Montanez and Diaz. They've spent most of their money on the District 4 race. What little money they have spent on District 2 has been spent on negative mailers attacking Garcia. Their hope is that the race goes to a runoff, where they can campaign heavily for Garcia'a opponent.

Garcia's opponents are all heavily critical of the direction of LAUSD and the policies instituted by Superintendent Deasy. Skeels, in particular, is an extreme anti-reform, pro-union candidate. For example, he says that charter schools represent the “privatization of public education,” and calls non-profts like the United Way part of the “non-profit industrial complex.”

But if these results hold, Garcia will win the election outright, avoiding a runoff.

LA Weekly