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Juan Benitez

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Juan Benitez
Juan Benitez.jpg
Former candidate for
Board member, Long Beach Board of Education, District 3
Elections and appointments
Last electionApril 8, 2014
Term limitsN/A
Bachelor'sUniversity of California at Los Angeles
Master'sUniversity of California at Los Angeles
Ph.D.University of California at Los Angeles
ProfessionCollege professor
Campaign website
Juan Benitez was a candidate for the District 3 seat on the Long Beach school board in California. He lost the general election on April 8, 2014 to incumbent John McGinnis.


Juan Benitez is a resident of Long Beach, California. Benitez earned his Bachelor's, Master's and Ph.D. from the University of California at Los Angeles. He is employed as an associate professor of history at California State University at Long Beach. Benitez also serves as the executive director of the Center for Community Engagement and as a Long Beach Nonprofit Partnership board member.[1][2]



See also: Long Beach Unified School District elections (2014)


Juan Benitez was defeated by incumbent John McGinnis for the District 3 seat in the general election on April 8, 2014.


Long Beach Unified School District, District 3 General Election, 4-year term, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngJohn McGinnis Incumbent 51% 2,642
     Nonpartisan Juan Benitez 49% 2,534
Total Votes 5,176
Source: Long Beach, California, "Long Beach Primary Nominating Election," accessed June 17, 2014


The Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk does not publish and freely disclose school board candidate campaign finance reports. Ballotpedia staffers directly requested this information, but the municipal office refused those requests to make that information public.[3] On March 28, 2014, Gazettes published an article that included a limited amount of campaign finance data for the Long Beach election. Benitez raised approximately $50,000 for his campaign against incumbent John McGinnis, who self-funded his campaign using the stipend he earned by attending board meetings.[4]


Benitez received endorsements from the Teachers Association of Long Beach, Long Beach Democratic Club, Los Angeles County Democrats and several other local political and labor organizations, including the Long Beach Firefighter Association, Police Officers Association and California School Employees Association. Long Beach Vice Mayor Robert Garcia, Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal and State Senator Ricardo Lara endorsed Benitez, as well.[5]

Campaign themes


Benitez published a list of his priorities on his campaign website:[6]

Expanding Opportunities For Our Children

I want to make sure all Long Beach students have the same opportunities to succeed academically and in their social and emotional development. All of our children should be able to achieve their dreams. As a product of public schools, I believe that the power of a public education can help turn dreams into realities.

Long Beach faces a large achievement gap between white students and students of color. As your School Board Member, I will work with students and their families to close this gap, because your background shouldn’t define your dreams.

Engaging Parents

As an academic advisor at CSULB, I know firsthand how important parental involvement is for a young person’s education and later success in college. One of my top priorities as School Board Member will be to create a culture of parent engagement in all of our schools.

Right now there is not enough of a district-wide effort to encourage this engagement. We need to develop the mechanisms to make it happen. I will focus on building those systems for parents to feel vested in and a part of their schools.

Transparency and Collaboration

Over the next four years, the Long Beach School Board will be making decisions that will impact the next generation of students – decisions to fix the district’s structural deficit, implement Common Core Standards, and close the achievement gap.

Decisions cannot be made in a vacuum or among special interests. They must be based on data, expertise, and the experiences of those who will be affected – students, parents, teachers, and community members. As Board Member, I reach out to you so you know what decisions are being made and how you can get contribute to the decision-making process.

Note: The above quote is from the candidate's website, which may include some typographical or spelling errors.

What was at stake?

Three seats on the school board were up for election on April 8, 2014. Newcomers Uduak-Joe Ntuk and Megan Kerr competed for the vacant District 1 seat while incumbent Diana F. Craighead ran unopposed to keep her District 5 seat. Board President John McGinnis fended off a challenge from Juan Benitez to keep his District 3 seat.

Issues in the election

Accusations of dishonesty

In the month prior to the District 1 election, both Uduak-Joe Ntuk and Megan Kerr made statements claiming that the other was dishonest. Ntuk criticized Kerr's campaign for falsely claiming that she holds a Master's degree. On an online profile created by the League of Women Voters, Kerr was attributed with an M.A. degree in Human Development from Pacific Oaks College. Kerr campaign representative Katy Stanton also claimed during an interview with The Press-Telegram that Kerr holds a Master's degree from California State University at Long Beach, which Kerr later denied. On her campaign website, Kerr clarified that she has studied for a graduate degree at Pacific Oaks College but that she has not completed all of the necessary requirements to receive one.[7]

Ntuk also faced allegations of dishonesty from the Kerr campaign regarding endorsements. Ntuk's campaign used his website and thousands of robocalls to publicize an endorsement from AFT Local 1521, which is a local affiliate of the national American Federation of Teachers union. The Teachers Association of Long Beach, which endorsed Kerr and is affiliated with the National Education Association, denounced Ntuk's statements as an attempt to mislead voters into believing that the national union had endorsed him. Campaign spokesman Roy Behr defended Ntuk by arguing, "It was very clear that he had been endorsed by AFT Local 1521."[8]

About the district

See also: Long Beach Unified School District, California
Long Beach Unified School District is located in Los Angeles County, California
Long Beach Unified School District is located in Los Angeles County, California. The county seat of Los Angeles County is Los Angeles. Los Angeles County is home to 10,017,068 residents, according to the United States Census Bureau.[9] Long Beach Unified School District is the third-largest school district in California, serving 83,691 students during the 2011-2012 school year.[10]


Los Angeles County underperformed in comparison to the rest of California in terms of higher education achievement in 2012. The United States Census Bureau found that 29.5 percent of Los Angeles County residents aged 25 years and older had attained a bachelor's degree compared to 30.5 percent for California as a whole. The median household income in Los Angeles County was $56,241 compared to $61,400 for the state of California. The poverty rate in Los Angeles County was 17.1 percent compared to 15.3 percent for the entire state.[9]

Racial Demographics, 2012[9]
Race Los Angeles County (%) California (%)
White 71.6 73.7
Black or African American 9.3 6.6
American Indian and Alaska Native 1.5 1.7
Asian 14.5 13.9
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 0.4 0.5
Two or More Races 2.8 3.6
Hispanic or Latino 48.2 38.2

2013 Party Affiliation, Los Angeles County[11]
Party Registered Voters  % of Total
Democratic 2,450,612 50.77
Republican 1,021,666 21.16
American Independent 108,709 2.25
Peace and Freedom 34,940 0.72
Libertarian 26,221 0.54
Green 24,465 0.51
Americans Elect 2,466 0.05
Other 316,634 6.56
Unaffiliated 841,559 17.43

Note: The United States Census Bureau considers "Hispanic or Latino" to be a place of origin, not a race. Therefore, the Census allows citizens to report both their race and that they are from a "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin simultaneously. As a result, the percentages in each column of the racial demographics table will exceed 100 percent. Each column will add up to 100 percent after removing the "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin percentages, although rounding by the Census Bureau may make the total one or two tenths off from being exactly 100 percent.[12] This Ballotpedia page provides a more detailed explanation of how the Census Bureau handles race and ethnicity in its surveys.

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