June 05, 2014
By Kenneth D. Miller
Assistant Managing Editor
The spirit of late District 1 Los Angeles Unified School Board member filled the air on 48th and Crenshaw Blvd. on Tuesday June 3 at the campaign of retired and revered educator George McKenna.
As McKenna arrived at his headquarters to greet supporters wearing LaMotte’s customary Mardi Gras beads, dancing with colorful umbrellas twirling and a New Orleans buffet awaiting, he had already realized that the fight to fill the vacant District 1 Seat would have to wait.
“She’s here in her spirit. I wish she were here and then I wouldn’t be here,” McKenna said. “But now that I am a candidate I want to do the right things for the reason that I entered the race.”
Although he was outspent 2-1 in campaign contributions, he led Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas aid Alex Johnson 44 percent to 25 percent at press-time, indicating that a runoff is likely between the top two candidates in a special election in August.
“It’s a commitment for me, something that I made to the educational arena a long time ago,” McKenna added.
He says that he’s prepared for the long haul and embraces the continued challenge.
“Now there’s an opportunity to make people see that there is more to our lives than test scores. How did we let our children get away from us and call them drop outs?
Like it’s part of a normal process! Like planes fly crash and still fly! Why do we let them do that?”
“I’m prepared (for a runoff) because I made the commitment. I used to run track so I know how to sprint and run a marathon. I’ll be ready,” he adamantly stated.
His campaign received many of its donations from parents, teachers and students in the $50 to $100 range, an old school grassroots ground game that former City Councilman Bob Farrell likened to the years of the late Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley.
Farrell called the runoff a victory.
“It’s a victory all the way around because we were clearly out spent, but our supporters are the constituents of the district that will roll up their sleeves and work as hard as necessary to elect George McKenna.”
Since Lamotte died last December, her seat has gone unfilled although it has an appointee.
In August, that is sure to change, when voters decide between McKenna and Johnson.