Editorial: The June 7 primary is a critical election for Los Angeles. We can help
All elections matter, but some matter more — and the June 7 primary is such a moment in Los Angeles and California. The results on election day could bring a significant shift in the political landscape.
Recent surveys suggest voters are pessimistic about the future. High housing prices and the homelessness crisis remain top concerns. Spiking gas prices, inflation and rising crime rates are adding to people’s frustrations. The existential threat of climate change, the trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic, the racial reckoning after the George Floyd murder and the angst of the last two years are feeding a sense of discontent and an urgency for change.
We’re already seeing this play out on the ballot. California is so blue that many statewide and L.A. races are often between a Democrat and a slightly more or less liberal Democrat. But in key races this spring, there are very different ideologies and visions on the ballot. And voters will have real choices — and those choices will have real impacts and consequences.
Three statewide races this year will test Democrats’ hegemony and the relevance of California’s open primary.
To help voters choose wisely, the Times editorial page will begin publishing its endorsements this week and they will continue over the coming weeks. June 7 is known as election day, but it’s more proper to call it the last day of voting in the primary. Election reforms expedited by the pandemic mean that Californians now have nearly a month to vote. Every registered voter will be mailed a ballot in early May, giving people ample time to read up on the candidates, tune in to a forum, consider endorsements, including ours, and make a decision.
The editorial board endorses selectively, choosing the most consequential races in which to make recommendations. For the June 7 primary, we are endorsing in all the city, county and Los Angeles Unified School District races and in some legislative, congressional and statewide races — and of course the judicial races, which are often the most confounding part of the ballot because the candidates are unfamiliar to voters. We may endorse in additional races for the November general election.
Gov. Gavin Newsom is up for reelection but his big challenge came during last year’s recall election. Having easily fended off the opposition in September, he faces little-known challengers in June. The competitive statewide races to watch are down ballot — the controller (the watchdog of state government), the insurance commissioner and the attorney general, which has become a referendum on criminal justice reform.
This is a critical election in Los Angeles. With Mayor Eric Garcetti termed out, city voters will choose a new chief executive for the first time in nearly a decade, along with a new city attorney and city controller. Half the City Council seats are also up for a vote.
Sure, crime and homelessness are vital topics. But what are L.A.’s mayoral candidates going to do to help our schoolchildren?
This is the second municipal ballot since the city moved its elections from odd-numbered to even-numbered years to coincide with presidential and gubernatorial elections. Under the old schedule, mayor’s races were sometimes sleepy affairs; fewer than 1 in 4 registered Los Angeles voters bothered to cast a ballot in the 2013 race when Garcetti was first elected. Now, with the combination of consolidated election dates and universal mail-in ballots, it’s quite possible this year could be the highest turnout mayoral election in decades. And City Council incumbents, who often have easy reelections, are facing serious challengers hoping to take advantage of the larger, more diverse electorate.
For the last month and a half, the Times editorial board has been interviewing candidates and doing research and reporting to inform our recommendations. What do we look for in a candidate? We want to support individuals who have a record of success and have proved they can reach consensus and solve problems. They must offer more than platitudes and simplistic statements and demonstrate they understand and are ready for the complexities of governing.
We also look for candidates who recognize and want to address the inequities that continue to plague our communities and institutions in California. Systemic racism, poverty, income inequality, the opportunity gap — these are deeply rooted problems that our political leaders have to confront.
Our goal is to give you recommendations based on strong arguments and analyses, along with additional Opinion coverage of the election. We welcome your thoughts and feedback. Look for Times endorsements in the newspaper and online.
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