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2 Challengers, 1 Incumbent Finish First in Election for Nation’s Second-Largest School System

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L.A. school board challenger Ref Rodriguez surged to an early lead in election returns Tuesday. (Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

In final, unofficial election returns Tuesday night, two challengers defeated incumbents to win seats on the Los Angeles Board of Education.

In District 5, well-funded challenger Ref Rodriguez bested one-term incumbent Bennett Kayser, winning with nearly 54% of the vote. That area includes neighborhoods north and east of downtown, as well as the cities of southeast L.A. County.

“It looks good,” Rodriguez told a crowd of supporters before the final results were tallied. “I decided to run because I knew the system wasn’t working for all kids.”

In District 3, which covers the west San Fernando Valley, challenger Scott Schmerelson finished ahead of two-term incumbent Tamar Galatzan. His lead solidified over the evening and he ended with about 55% of ballots cast.

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