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Endorsement: Reelect L.A. City Councilman David Ryu

David Ryu
David Ryu is running for a second term on the Los Angeles City Council.
(Los Angeles Times)

What a difference five years makes. When David Ryu ran for the Council District 4 seat in 2015, there were hearty debates over big development projects, street repairs in Hancock Park and how to spend council members’ “slush funds.”

Today, Ryu is running for reelection, and he and challenger Nithya Raman are talking about how to dismantle systemic racism, reimagine the Los Angeles Police Department, house the homeless and prevent a pandemic-created eviction tsunami.

The change in conversation is driven by the moment — the pandemic, the racial justice protests and the high-stakes presidential election. But it’s also been driven by Raman, an urban planner and activist who has pushed Ryu so far to the left in the runoff, a political action committee tied to the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce rescinded its earlier endorsement of him.

The Times didn’t endorse Ryu in 2015, but he’s impressed during his first term with his willingness to listen, learn and respond, and to fight the good fight in the face of opposition from defenders of the status quo. He’s earned a second term.

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Ryu spent five years trying to convince his colleagues to ban political contributions from real estate developers, and they only reluctantly passed a version in response to pay-to-play scandals.

He has a gotten solid marks for supporting more shelters and housing in his district, including fending off NIMBY lawsuits and an angry mob in Sherman Oaks. Still, Ryu has fallen short on his pledge to get 222 units of permanent supportive housing approved in his district; he’s at 167. Yes, it’s hard to find affordable land in his affluent district, but Ryu — like other council members — has to be creative and indefatigable in building homeless housing.

Raman is thoughtful and detail-oriented; she has lengthy policy platforms with ideas that seemed like political nonstarters a few months ago but have gained traction in this moment — rent forgiveness, defunding the police and public broadband. Ryu and other council members would do well to consider her proposals on affordable housing construction and protected bus and bike lanes.


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