Speak UP parent activists in the southeast of LAUSD District 5 have been hitting the streets for the past seven weeks to boost voter turnout in the historically under-represented and primarily Latino communities of Huntington Park, Vernon, Bell, South Gate, Maywood and Cudahy.
Ten candidates are in the running for the District 5 seat, which has been vacant since Ref Rodriguez resigned last July. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote Tuesday, the race will move to a runoff on May 14.
While 90 percent of the more than 81,000 LAUSD students in District 5 are Latino, most of the voters have traditionally come from the whiter and more affluent communities in the northern part of the district, including Silver Lake, Echo Park, Los Feliz, Mount Washington, Highland Park and Eagle Rock.
Speak UP has not endorsed a candidate in the March 5 primary, but Speak UP community leaders have been knocking on doors and calling voters in the Southeast to make them aware of the election and to encourage them to get out and vote.
“My experience working and ‘living’ this election with Speak UP and my parent colleagues was wonderful,” said Speak UP leader Maria Cedano, a mother of four children who attended LAUSD schools in District 5. She and her husband, Ramon, helped get out the vote. “We informed the community about the importance of this election. This vote could make a difference, and it’s so important to be informed.”
As of Monday, Speak UP had secured commitments from about 1800 voters to participate in Tuesday’s special election, which is expected to have low voter turnout.
Speak UP parent leader Laura Gutierrez said many voters had heard nothing about the election before she spoke to them. “I loved the fact that I was able to inform our community members about the importance of this and all elections,” said the mother of three kids attending LAUSD’s Elizabeth Learning Center, Nimitz Middle School and Bell High school in District 5.
Nearly all of the students in the southeast – 97 percent – are Latino, and 91 percent are low-income, according to a report from Innovate Public Schools. More than a quarter are English Language Learners. Only four out of 10 students in the southeast are achieving at grade level in English and just three out of 10 in math. Out of the 89 schools in the southeast, only nine are above the state average in English and math.
“Our tireless parent activists are doing a great job of reminding their neighbors how important their vote will be in this low-turnout election,” said Katie Braude, Speak UP Executive Director. “This is their chance to make their voices heard as a community.”
To find your District 5 polling place, click here: https://www.lavote.net/locator