New Faces to Join L.A. City Council

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 Rafu Wire and Staff Reports

The political road between Sacramento and Los Angeles City Hall was being well-traveled in Tuesday’s election, with Sen. Curren Price (D-Los Angeles) and former Assemblymember Gil Cedillo claiming City Council seats and another former assemblymember advancing to a runoff election in hopes of representing another council district.

In the 1st District, Cedillo earned 52.4 percent of the vote in a runoff battle with Jose Gardea, the chief of staff for termed-out Councilmember Ed Reyes. Gardea received 47.5 percent. The district includes northeast Los Angeles, Chinatown, Pico Union and MacArthur Park.

Price won 52.7 percent of the vote against Ana Cubas, former chief of staff for Councilmember Jose Huizar of District 14, in the race for the 9th District seat representing South Los Angeles. Cubas received 47.2 percent. Independent expenditure groups poured upward of $600,000 into Price’s campaign.

LAPD Deputy Chief Terry Hara was a candidate in the 9th District, but finished fourth in the March 5 election.

In the third council runoff race, Mitch O’Farrell, a one-time field deputy for mayor-elect Eric Garcetti, defeated former Public Works Commissioner John Choi, 53 percent to 46.9  percent, in the battle for Garcetti’s 13th District seat representing the Hollywood area. The race proved acrimonious, with the campaigns exchanging accusations of voter fraud, particularly in Little Armenia.

Choi, who would have been only the second Asian American to serve on the City Council, also charged that he was depicted as a foreigner in a pro-O’Farrell mailer.

“I am proud and humbled by the outpouring of community support which has made this win possible,” O’Farrell said. “… I am looking forward to the challenge ahead, and I will be proud to represent the 13th District in City Hall.”

Outgoing Councilmember Jan Perry, who represents the 9th District, said in a Facebook post, “Congratulations … to our new City Councilmembers Curren Price and Mitch O’Farrell! Well-deserved victories!”

Cedillo, Price and O’Farrell will be among six new faces that will join the council on July 1. Two other state legislators — Assemblymember Bob Blumenfield (D-Van Nuys) and Assemblymember Felipe Fuentes (D-Arleta) — won outright in the March primary.

Mike Bonin, chief of staff for outgoing Councilmember Bill Rosendahl, was elected in March to replace his boss, who is leaving office due to illness. Rosendahl represents the 11th District, which includes Brentwood, Marina del Rey, Pacific Palisades, Playa del Rey, Venice, West L.A. and Westchester.

Meanwhile, in the San Fernando Valley’s 6th District, former Assemblymember Cindy Montanez finished atop a field of six candidates looking to fill the unexpired term of Tony Cardenas, who was elected to Congress in November.

But Montanez had 43.5 percent of the vote, short of the 50 percent needed to claim the seat outright. In a July 23 runoff, she will face second-place finisher Nury Martinez, a Los Angeles Unified School District board member, who received 23.9 percent.

The winner of that race will be the seventh new face — and the only woman — on the 15-member City Council. Perry, who is termed out after 12 years in office, is currently the council’s only female member.

Perry finished fourth in the March mayoral election and threw her support to Garcetti. She has said that she is not sure what she’ll do next but will remain involved in politics.

Council President Herb Wesson was pleased to see a Sacramento-oriented incoming council, declaring, “This class has the potential to be… one of the best councils in a long time.”

“You will see us move faster,” said Wesson, who spent six years in the Assembly, including two as speaker. “One thing that frustrates you in Sacramento is the pace, so whenever there is an opening to try to move something quickly, you seize that opening. In Sacramento, things happen … at light speed, so you and your staff have to be on their toes.”

On the campaign trail: (Left) 13th District City Council candidate Mitch O’Farrell with Koreatown business and community leaders. (Right) Candidate John Choi with members of the Global Leaders Association at UCLA.

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