Facing down advertisements and heavy spending from an adversarial teachers union, school board member Mitz Lee is touting three new endorsements: Former mayoral candidate Steve Francis, former school board member Frances O’Neill Zimmerman, and former teachers union executive director Robin Whitlow. Lee is fighting to keep her seat against John Lee Evans, a child psychologist who has been championed by the union and who has pledged to not lay off teachers.

Francis, a Republican who lost in the June primary to Mayor Jerry Sanders, called Lee “a tireless advocate for taxpayer accountability, school choice, and higher academic achievement in our city” and decried the union ads. Despite being defeated, Francis has vowed not to disappear from the San Diego political scene.

“Mitz is in a tough race, and needs our support – hundreds of thousands of dollars have poured in for negative TV ads that distort her honorable and responsible record,” Francis wrote.

Zimmerman also threw her support to Lee, who was a parent activist when Zimmerman was on the board. She noted that while Lee is a Republican and Zimmerman is a Democrat, “we share so many core values”:

From past difficult days up to the present lean-budget moment, Mitz Lee always displays common sense, supports sound educational practices and deeply believes that the educational needs of children in the public schools transcend partisan politics or labor disputes. She has replaced a controversial, profligate-spending, lawyer/superintendent with educators. She believes that all students thrive when offered art, music, phonics and basic math instruction rather than fads. She supports small classes in all subjects at all grade levels. She is fiscally responsible.

Lee said she was also honored to have the support of Whitlow, who could not be reached immediately for comment.

Endorsements from Francis, Zimmerman and Whitlow followed a vocal endorsement from school board member John de Beck, a former union ally who has been sharply critical of the teachers union ads and its endorsements of John Lee Evans, who is challenging Mitz Lee for her seat, and of incumbent Shelia Jackson. De Beck has lost favor with the teachers union after voting to lay off teachers during the budget crisis.

“Our folks are deeply disappointed in de Beck,” said teachers union president Camille Zombro. “I can’t see us supporting him unless he makes a very serious change in the decisions that he’s making. But we believe in no permanent enemies and no permanent allies.”


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