Voters from Echo Park and Silver Lake to El Sereno and East L.A. will decide on Tuesday which of two candidates – Bennett Kayser and Luis Sanchez – will take a seat on L.A. Unified’s school board. As the runoff election for District 5 enter its final hours, the candidates position on education issues have been overshadowed by other topics, ranging from the huge sums of money funneled into the campaign as well as the health of one of the candidates. Kayser, a retired teacher and Silver Lake resident, has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a brain disorder without a known cure. His hands shake visibly, a symptom of the disease, and it can be difficult for him to focus. But, in a recent interview with KPCC, Kayser said his condition will not get in the way of serving as a school board member:
An election mailer for his opponent revealed that he’d failed to pay his property tax bill last year. He says it’s true he was late paying it. That was around the time that Parkinson’s disease was beginning to affect him. During the interview he loses his train of thought. He attributes it to the Parkinson’s. Kayser insists the disease wouldn’t stop him from carrying out his duties if elected. Instead, he says, it’ll actually make him a better board member. “Being able to empathize with the kids and the employees of the district who may have a disability. One of the things I really intend to do is to become an advocate for those people.”
Kayser has the backing of the United Teachers of Los Angeles. Sanchez, who was endorsed by the Los Angeles Times, has the support of a committee organized by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.