This L.A. district is 80% non-white, but both school board candidates are white

Maria Villatoro had a few things on her checklist that would sway her vote for her kids’ new school board member: They should make the superintendent work harder, visit schools in her southeast Los Angeles neighborhood more often — and preferably, be a Latina, who might better understand the needs of her community.

But in the Tuesday runoff election, she will have to choose between two white candidates in Board District 5, even though about 8 in 10 residentsare not white and nearly 90% of the district students are Latino.

The oddly shaped district includes increasingly upscale northeast L.A. communities such as Silver Lake, Echo Park and Eagle Rock and the lower-income, majority-Latino cities of Bell, Huntington Park, South Gate and Cudahy in the southeast.

It was redrawn about 15 years ago to ensure the Latino vote would not be diluted. The forces of gentrification have complicated those efforts, and the fact that there are no Latino candidates left on the ballot disappoints some in the district. Click here to read more: