It can be argued that the middle is a voice that needs to be represented more in American politics. In an era of hyper-ideological division, we need people who can reach out to both sides of the political spectrum to find solutions. However, politicians who stake out the middle ground must do so with a sense of conviction. Without an adherence to principles, they run the risk of crossing the thin line between consensus building and pandering.
In many ways, Richard Vladovic is an example of the worst kind of moderate as he seems more interested in keeping the peace than taking a stand. For example, in last year’s special election in District 1 that pitted Dr. George McKenna against Alex Johnson, he was the only Board member not to make an endorsement. The LA School Report says that as the Board’s leader “he rarely attempts to sway opinion and almost never flashes any ‘passion’ for his position.” When asked during the first District 7 debate about John Deasy’s tenure with the district he would not take a stand stating that “he was respected and did a good job, and I don’t talk about people behind their back.” No mention was made of the former Superintendent’s iPad program or MiSiS - two issues that greatly affect the students of the district.
Vladovic’s seat on the School Board was purchased in part by a campaign committee aligned with former mayor Antonio Villaraigosa who “spent roughly $3 million to back” him and Tamar Galatzan in 2007. Heavy spending by outside interests continued in last month’s primary as the charter schools that the board is supposed to regulate spent $74,104.50 in attempt to help him avoid a runoff. However, he was unable to secure 50% of the vote and will face Lydia Gutierrez in the May 19th runoff election.
When it comes to politics, Gutierrez and I may not agree on many issues, but we see eye to eye when it comes to education policy. As a Board member, I am confident that she will make sure that the district will consider students with special needs. I am also encouraged by her support of vocational training, especially for those who are not on the college path, as well as increasing access to art and music education for all students. She is a public school teacher who supports efforts by the UTLA to secure a fair wage for teachers during the current contract negotiations.
I think that it is fitting that the School Board elections are nonpartisan as it reminds us that our votes should be about the children instead of party loyalties. For this reason I am completely comfortable crossing party lines to endorse Lydia Gutierrez in the May 19th election.