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Election 2015: Ryu grabs City Council seat, LAUSD election results

Sharon McNary/KPCC
Los Angeles City Council District 4 candidate David Ryu.

David Ryu clinched a seat on the Los Angeles City Council, while two of three current L.A. Unified school board members have been ousted by their challengers.

Ryu secured 53.85 percent of the vote in the District 4 race, edging out his challenger, Carolyn Ramsay, who secured 46.14 percent.

While there are still provisional ballots to count, Ryu said Ramsay called him to concede late Tuesday and a Ramsay campaign official confirmed, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Ryu's victory has added an Asian-American to the council — the first since 1993, according to L.A. Weekly. And he's also the first Korean American elected to the Los Angeles City Council, the Los Angeles Times reports. The 4th district race changes the diversity of the council.

In the 4th district, which covers Sherman Oaks to the Miracle Mile, the issues focused on addressing an aging infrastructure, including broken roads. Ryu and Ramsay also sparred over their outsider vs. insider status. Ramsay touted her experience as chief of staff for outgoing Councilmember Tom LaBonge. Ryu cast himself as an outsider unbeholden to entrenched interests.

Three of the seven seats on the Los Angeles Unified School District board were also on the line in Tuesday's runoff.

In the east Los Angeles District 5 race, challenger and charter school executive Ref Rodriguez beat out Bennett Kayser, who has heavily supported by the teachers union. Rodriguez had secured 53.55 percent of the vote to Kayser's 46.44 percent with all precincts reporting.

“The message of transforming middle schools and supporting innovation really resonated with voters," Rodriguez said in a statement. "I am incredibly grateful for the support of so many parents, teachers, and students, who rallied to support our effort."

Scott Mark Schmerelson unseated incumbent Tamar Galatzan. Schmerelson had the support of teachers in the District 3 race covering West San Fernando Valley. Galatzan had alienated the teachers union for her support of former Superintendent John Deasy and his school reforms. Schmerelson picked up 54.61 percent of the vote to Galatzan's 45.38 percent.

In District 7 covering Los Angeles Harbor, board president Richard Vladovic received backing from both charter school interests and the teachers union. He secured a spot against challenger Lydia A. Gutiérrez, with a nearly 12-point lead. Vladovic had 55.91 percent of the vote; Gutiérrez finished with 44.08 percent.

The winners along with current board members will have significant sway in charting the educational direction of the 650,000-student district and its $7.5 billion budget. The newly formed board also gets to select the next superintendent of the country's second-largest school district.

Several complex and pressing issues face the new board, including teacher evaluations and the continuing decline in public school enrollment as students shift to charter schools and demographics change. The declining trend represents a funding threat to the district since government dollars are tied to attendance.

As was the case in the primary, voter turnout was low as predicted: 7.64 percent of registered voters turned out in the school board election and 13.93 percent in City Council District 4.

In the school board election, the low turnout gave special interests more influence in the results than had voters turned out in decent numbers. California Charter Schools Association Advocates' PACs spent over $2.2 million, primarily to support charter school administrator Ref Rodriguez. The teachers union, UTLA, spent about $1.3 million while calling on its 31,000-plus members to campaign for its favored candidates. 

This story has been updated.