AD 46: Schools at the center of San Fernando Valley assembly race

Adrin Nazarian, left, and Brian Johnson, right, are both running for the state Assembly's 46th District.
Adrin Nazarian, left, and Brian Johnson, right, are both running for the state Assembly's 46th District.
Adrin Nazarian campaign; Brian Johnson campaign

An Assembly race in the San Fernando Valley is showing the Democratic party’s division over the future of public education as the California Teachers Association and local party leaders attack a well-funded pro-charter candidate.

Running for the 46th District are:

* Andrew Lachman
* Brian Johnson
* Adrin Nazarian
* Laurette Healey
* Adriano Lecaros
* Jay Stern

Out of that group, Stern is the only Republican.

Prior to running for office, Johnson ran the Larchmont Charter Schools. He is also a past executive director of Teach for American’s Los Angeles office. Democrats for Education Reform, a national group that works to elect Democrats who will overhaul the public school system, supports Johnson. That endorsement drew sharp criticism from Eric Bauman, chair of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, who demanded the group remove the name “democrats” from its name. According to Bauman, the group’s name is confusing to voters who may assume the Democratic Party has endorsed Johnson.

Johnson also tangled with the California Teachers Association, asking the union to back off of claims that he supports vouchers and wants to privatize public schools. The group spent about $450,000 on independent expenditures in opposition to Johnson. Parents and Teachers for Putting Students First, a group backed by former Washington, D.C. chancellor Michelle Rhee, spent $400,000 on television ads endorsing Johnson.

Another candidate, Nazarian, has also been criticized for the funds tied to his campaign. Nazarian has received and returned $10,050 from lobbyists registered with Los Angeles City Hall – where Nazarian is chief of staff to Councilman Paul Krekorian, chair of the Budget and Finance Committee.

Andrew Lachman, who was endorsed by the California Teachers Association, is formerly an attorney with Paramount Pictures. He currently teaches business law at Woodbury University in Burbank.

Laurette Healey was a deputy state controller. Jay Stern is a science teacher at Panorama High School, and Adriano Lecaros lists his occupation as business owner.