Early returns show Antonio Sanchez, the 30-year-old former aide to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, ahead with 42 percent of the vote. He'll need over 50 percent if wants to avoid a runoff on May 21.

His opponent Monica Ratliff is in second place with 33 percent of the vote, while Maria Cano is in third with 14 percent. Iris Zuniga, a candidate who unexpectedly dropped out after qualifying for the ballot, is pulling in 10 percent.

If these results hold, Sanchez and Ratliff will face each other in the May general election.

It's no surprise Sanchez is in first – he enjoys the backing of all the major special interest groups, including the Coalition for School Reform, the service workers union and the teachers union, which has endorsed all three candidates in the race.

Why has UTLA, which yearns to wrest control of the seven-member school board away from the reformers, endorsed all three candidates? No one's really sure. Maybe they decided they like all three candidates. Or maybe they're just scared of District 6, which covers the diverse East San Fernando Valley.

Despite being supported by the reform Coalition and the SEIU to the tune of almost a million bucks, Sanchez's election is no sure thing. It was Ratliff, a fourth grade teacher at San Pedro Elementary (a high performing district school in one of the worst parts of town) who gained the endorsements of both the Los Angeles Times and the Daily News.

Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.