Los Angeles City Council candidate David Ryu defeated his rival in the contest to replace Councilman Tom LaBonge in a sprawling district that includes Los Feliz, Hancock Park and Sherman Oaks.
Unofficial results with 100% of precincts reporting showed Ryu, a health center development director, received more than 11,200 votes, giving him a more than 1,600-vote margin over former LaBonge aide Carolyn Ramsay, who had strong support from City Hall leaders including Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Council President Herb Wesson.
Ryu said late Tuesday that Ramsay called him to concede, which a Ramsay campaign official confirmed. Ryu, 39, will become the first Korean American to hold a council seat in Los Angeles.
The two candidates had few glaring differences on city policy.
Instead, much of the race became a battle over whether one of the more affluent, politically involved districts in Los Angeles needed someone with inside knowledge of how City Hall works or the jolt of an outsider’s perspective.
The campaign also was partly a referendum on LaBonge, a larger-than-life political personality who is termed out after leading the district for 14 years.
At Ryu’s campaign gathering on the front patio of Wokcano, an Asian restaurant on the Sunset Strip, dozens of supporters, staff members and volunteers watched election returns. Late in the evening, Ryu walked in to chants of "David! David!"
"All the big names, all the established players were not with us,” Ryu told the crowd. “But we had something more important, something stronger — it was the community leader, it was the block captain."
"And today, it's historic not because I'm Asian American. It's historic because we are finally telling City Hall that we do not like business as usual.”
Ramsay supporters gathered at Busby's East in Mid-Wilshire amid blue and yellow balloons and Ramsay signs. Ramsay mingled, posing for photos and talking to campaign staff and supporters. Council members Paul Koretz, Mike Bonin, Felipe Fuentes, Mitch O’Farrell, Nury Martinez and LaBonge made appearances.
“We ran a clean, positive campaign," Ramsay told the crowd, flanked on stage by supporters holding her signs.
She thanked LaBonge, whom she called her mentor and inspiration.