Endorsement: Imelda Padilla for L.A. City Council
Voters in the San Fernando Valley’s 6th District may struggle to choose between the two homegrown candidates running to represent the area on the Los Angeles City Council in the June 27 election.
Both were born and raised in the district, which includes Van Nuys, Lake Balboa, Panorama City, Arleta and Sun Valley, by working-class Mexican immigrant parents. Both were University of California undergrads who went on to earn master’s degrees. Both are millennials with impressive resumes showing a dedication to local public service. Both are pragmatic progressives with similar positions on homelessness, policing, environmental justice, housing and other pressing issues that are consistent with the values of the district and the needs of the city.
The tension between city council candidates Marisa Alcaraz and Imelda Padilla is ratcheting up, because they seem so alike.
But the differences emerge when it comes to their experiences and skills, and it becomes clear one is better suited to be a strong leader for the district and on the council. That’s Padilla. With two decades of work within the community — as a volunteer, organizer, activist and a staffer for local organizations — Padilla is best suited to win back the trust of residents after the last council representative resigned in disgrace. Then-council President Nury Martinez stepped down in October after a leaked audio recording caught her and two other council members making racist, divisive comments.
Padilla is already well-known and respected in political and community circles. She has been deeply involved in Sun Valley and the northeast San Fernando Valley since joining the L.A. City Youth Council in the ninth grade (she’s 35 now). She has worked in a variety of community engagement and outreach roles for Pacoima Beautiful, the Los Angeles County Women and Girls Initiative and the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy. She has served on the Sun Valley Area Neighborhood Council, an unpaid and often-thankless elected position, and worked as a field deputy in the district office under Martinez before heading to grad school at Cal State Northridge.
Padilla is a leader who comes from the trenches, and it shows in her knowledge of the ground-level needs of the district. She speaks with authority about addressing community frustrations such as the unmaintained Sheldon skate park, getting resources for unhoused people living in RVs in industrial areas, and the environmental impacts from Van Nuys Airport and the Sun Valley Generating Station, a natural gas power plant.
Given the breadth of Padilla’s experience and longtime work in the community, it’s no surprise that her endorsements include a diverse collection of elected officials — including City Councilmember Monica Rodriguez and Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-Pacoima), who represented the district on the council before being elected to Congress — community organizations and leaders, labor unions and business associations, such as BizFed, which praised her as a coalition builder and a leader who will work to balance competing priorities.
Her range of support and deep understanding of the district will give Padilla an edge when it comes to directing investments in the community, such as the $2-billion East Valley light rail project, which will construct a 6.7-mile rail line along Van Nuys Boulevard, and commercial and residential development, as well as negotiating how the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area will be used in the 2028 Olympics, which will require construction of temporary or permanent facilities.
By comparison Alcaraz’s experience and knowledge in the community is limited. She has spent almost her entire career working on policy at City Hall for Councilmember Curren Price, who represents a South L.A. district. She has worked on a number of important initiatives, such as legalizing sidewalk vending, launching a guaranteed basic income pilot and passing the $15 minimum wage. (Padilla also worked on that effort as an organizer charged with rallying support in the Valley.) Alcaraz would no doubt be able to work well within city government, but she has had considerably less experience building relationships within the district and working on granular community issues than her opponent.
Being a member of the Los Angeles City Council requires not just policy expertise but an ability to rally the district, fight for resources and champion issues residents care about. Padilla is clearly the candidate better suited to be the leader the district needs.
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