Four L.A. City Council members lead their opponents, while a fifth faces a runoff
Four members of the Los Angeles City Council were leading in their contests for reelection Wednesday, while a fifth was looking at a Nov. 8 runoff, according to partial returns.
Councilmembers Bob Blumenfield and Monica Rodriguez, who represent opposite ends of the San Fernando Valley, defeated their challengers by wide margins, those returns showed.
Councilman Curren Price, based in South Los Angeles, prevailed over his lone opponent on the ballot, college administrator Dulce Vasquez. Price called the race a referendum on his “progressive, positive, inclusive leadership.”
“People said when times are difficult, that’s the type of leader we want,” Price said.
In an Eastside district stretching from Highland Park to Pico-Union, Councilman Gil Cedillo held a narrower lead over community activist Eunisses Hernandez, who ran on plans for stronger tenant protections and shifting funds out of the Los Angeles Police Department and into other programs.
In a district that extends from Echo Park to Hollywood, Councilman Mitch O’Farrell was heading into a runoff against Hugo Soto-Martinez, an organizer with Unite Here Local 11, which represents hotel workers, with O’Farrell in only a slight lead.
Soto-Martinez said that in a runoff campaign, he will focus on O’Farrell’s support from real estate interests and the need for change in the district, which takes in such areas as Silver Lake, Atwater Village and Windsor Square.
The campaign “was about the city working for the people,” Soto-Martinez said. “And in Round 2, it’s going to be the exact same message.”
O’Farrell issued a statement expressing gratitude to his supporters. “Serving on the Los Angeles City Council is about public service, making tough decisions and being accountable to constituents — not to purist politics and ideology,” he said.
Four of the five candidates have made the race a referendum on Councilman Mitch O’Farrell’s record on homelessness, housing and other issues.
The results from Tuesday’s down-ballot contests, once final, will deliver the most sweeping turnover at City Hall in nine years, with three new elected officials and at least three new City Council members.
In L.A.’s harbor area, attorney Tim McOsker appeared headed toward a runoff against community leader Danielle Sandoval. Both are running to replace Councilman Joe Buscaino, who is stepping down later this year.
On the Westside, political aide Katy Young Yaroslavsky on Wednesday was holding a commanding lead over attorney Sam Yebri — one that put her on the verge of avoiding a second round. Yaroslavsky, who has served as an aide to county Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, said voters were looking for candidates who “have actually done the work.”
“Every conversation I’ve had with people where I’ve had a chance to talk with them about the issues, I win people over,” she said.
With early results tabulated, Yebri was in second place. He said the results so far were “a victory for those with the courage to stand up to the establishment.”
“We’re confident we’re going to move on to November,” he said.
The primary election will help determine Los Angeles’ next mayor and sheriff.
In citywide contests, accountant Kenneth Mejia and City Councilman Paul Koretz were heading for a runoff in the race to replace City Controller Ron Galperin, with Mejia holding a strong lead Wednesday morning.
Meanwhile, former prosecutor Marina Torres and and civil rights attorney Faisal Gill were leading a field of seven candidates looking to replace City Atty. Mike Feuer, partial results showed. If those numbers hold, they will compete in the Nov. 8 runoff.
Torres said her lead in the contest showed how frustrated Angelenos have become over the issues of homelessness and public safety. “People believe we need a safer L.A.,” she said. “The quality of life for people in Los Angeles is getting worse.”
Gill had campaigned on a promise to impose a 100-day moratorium on new misdemeanor filings, as part of an assessment of the office. The Porter Ranch resident also vowed to go after problem police officers.
“Voters are definitely worried about public safety. But as the polling says, they’re also very leery of the LAPD,” he said. “And I think that’s where my message resonates, because I’m talking about holding the LAPD accountable.”
Deputy City Atty. Richard Kim was in third place, not far behind Gill. During the campaign, he had placed an emphasis on crime and corruption.
On the Westside, civil rights lawyer Erin Darling and municipal law attorney Traci Park were leading a group of eight candidates looking to replace Councilman Mike Bonin, who is stepping down at the end of the year.
Darling, who was endorsed by Bonin, ran on a promise of stronger renter protections and strategies to combat homelessness that do not criminalize poverty.
“Homelessness definitely defined the race for most voters,” he said. “It was issue No. 1.”
Los Angeles City Council incumbents could be more vulnerable than they’ve been in the past.
Park campaigned as the candidate focused on public safety — and promised that her leadership would mark a departure from Bonin’s tenure.
“[Voters] are really excited to have a new councilmember who is willing to listen,” said Park, who is seeking to represent a district stretching from Los Angeles International Airport north to Pacific Palisades.
The issue of homelessness dominated the vast majority of this year’s contests, with some candidates highlighting the number of encampments lining city sidewalks. Others took aim at a law that allows council members to designate schools, libraries and other facilities as off-limits for camping.
Several challengers promised to repeal that law and said they would fight to keep it from being expanded to cover sidewalks around every public school.
Public safety was another flashpoint, with several candidates signing a “no new cops” pledge backed by Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles. A few went further, saying they support outright abolition of the LAPD.
Backers of O’Farrell and Cedillo, including the rank-and-file police officers union, took aim at Hernandez and Soto-Martinez — both self-described abolitionists — describing their stances on public safety as dangerous. Soto-Martinez and Hernandez criticized O’Farrell and Cedillo for their support from that union and from the California Apartment Assn.
Mejia, who was leading the field of candidates for controller, argued in favor of shifting funds out of the LAPD and into other services, such as a guaranteed income program that has provided $1,000 per month to low-income households.
Mejia did not respond to multiple requests for comment but on Twitter posted the message “RUN OFF!”
Koretz, who served three terms on the council, warned that the city needs more officers to get a handle on the rising number of homicides, robberies and other crimes. He said he plans to consolidate the support picked up by the four other candidates, while highlighting Mejia’s views on police and other issues.
“The more people know about him,” Koretz said, “the more people will turn in my direction.”
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