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Urban planner Nithya Raman unseats Los Angeles City Councilman David Ryu

Urban planner Nithya Raman, 39, is the first person in 17 years to unseat a member of the L.A. City Council.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles City Councilman David Ryu conceded defeat in his race for reelection against urban planner Nithya Raman on Friday, becoming the first council member in 17 years to be ousted by an opponent.

Raman, 39, will join the council as it confronts a massive budget shortfall, a growing homelessness crisis and a deadly pandemic, representing a district that takes in Sherman Oaks, Hancock Park, Los Feliz, the Miracle Mile and much of the Hollywood Hills.

In a statement, Raman thanked Ryu for his work on the council, saying she hoped to build on his efforts. She said her campaign was the product of “energized people who were just realizing their power to shape the city” and “organizers and movement leaders who have been fighting for a better L.A. for years.”

“The crises facing Los Angeles are vast but hopefully not insurmountable,” she said. “We are excited to build off of the policies we campaigned on, and get to work.”

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Raman campaigned on proposals for setting up community access centers for homeless residents and making the Los Angeles Police Department a much smaller, specialized armed force. She also promoted a rent forgiveness plan that would deliver cash payments to smaller landlords and tax credits for larger ones.

The Silver Lake resident worked closely with an array of leftist activist groups, including the Democratic Socialists of America-Los Angeles and Ground Game L.A., and secured the endorsement of Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Ryu, 45, was elected in 2015, running as an outsider and a reformer who declined to accept donations from real estate developers. This year, however, he found himself having to defend the status quo as council members struggled to address increased homelessness, rising housing costs and criticism over spending at the Los Angeles Police Department.

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Councilman David Ryu congratulated Raman on her victory.
In his concession statement, Councilman David Ryu congratulated Raman on her victory and said the city would need to come together to overcome its problems.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

In his concession statement, Ryu congratulated Raman on her victory and said the city would need to come together to overcome its various problems. He said he was proud of his work building affordable housing and approving campaign finance measures, but acknowledged that it had been difficult to “implement change in City Hall.”

“Homelessness, corruption and an eviction crisis cannot be solved by any one person alone. It will take all of our best efforts and good faith to build the future we need in Los Angeles,” he said.

Raman and Councilman-elect Mark Ridley-Thomas, who won the election to represent a Koreatown-to-Crenshaw district, are scheduled to take office Dec. 14.

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About 24,000 voters cast ballots in the race five years ago when Ryu won his council seat. This time around, with L.A.’s election timed to coincide with the presidential race, more than five times as many voters cast ballots in the council race.

Friday’s announcement did not come as a surprise. Raman maintained more than 52% of the vote through each of the county’s vote-counting updates. While she and Ryu remained quiet about the state of the race, various council members have been coming forward in recent days to congratulate her.

Council President Nury Martinez said she was excited to have “a third woman of color join this council.”

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Once Raman takes office, women will occupy three of the council’s 15 seats — 20% of the total.


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