Voter Information: Know Your District’s Metropolis Council Candidate, Together with Who Donated to Their Marketing campaign

There are, like, 69 trillion people running for 27 billion elected positions this year, half of whom are running for city council seats. There are only 15 people representing about four million people on the city council. They have a wild amount of power, and not a lot of accountability to the public aside from these elections and whatever pressure comes from community and activist groups. 

We won’t take too much time with this spiel, but it is kind of amazing to see that most of the candidates around the city talk about using political power to house people, protect renters, build more affordable housing, and actually hold the police accountable for their actions, political positions that would seem too radical even a couple of years ago. It’s almost as if the constant push of a broad array of local activist groups over the past couple of years has effectively pressured local politicians to use their political power for something besides getting kickbacks from real estate developers… 

Anyways, here’s a rundown of the people that want you to vote for them and why.

District 1:

District 1 includes northeast and northwest communities in the city, including Glassell Park, Chinatown, Lincoln Heights, Pico-Union, Koreatown, and Westlake. 

Gil Cedillo has been the council member for the district since 2013. Cedillo came up working as a manager for SEIU, the Service Employees International Union. Then he became a state assemblyman, where he introduced and advocated for a series of bills to get driver’s licenses for undocumented people. None of those bills passed until Governor Jerry Brown passed a similar bill in 2013. Recently though, Cedillo has been better known for his use of the Department of Sanitation to remove street vendors at both Avenue 26 and the El Salvador Corridor street food market on Vermont Ave, not to mention the years-long issue of tenants at the Hillside Villa apartment complex in Chinatown, who have recently and successfully pressured Cedillo and the city to look into taking over their building to protect its affordable housing units. He also voted for a 150 million dollar reduction in the city’s budget for the LAPD in 2020 and then voted for an increase in the department’s budget a year later. On his website, Cedillo says he wants to “create a better future of an affordable, just, dignified Los Angeles.” More recently, he’s made the decision to close street vending markets like Ave 26 Night Market and El Salvador Corridor, which fans of tacos and street vending advocates alike argue is detrimental to L.A.’s most vulnerable immigrant communities. However, some residents and brick-and-mortar restaurants who live nearby are reported to be relieved (the sweep happened a few days after this op-ed was published by LA Times.  

Fun donor facts: The Planned Parenthood Advocacy Project Los Angeles County Action Fund, the Fox Corporation, and the California Apartment Association PAC have all donated to Cedillo’s campaign. 

Eunisses Hernandez is running against Cedillo as a progressive candidate for this city council seat. Hernandez is the co-executive director of La Defensa, an anti-incarceration political advocacy group. Hernandez wants to do a lot of things, including protecting affordable housing in District 1, closing down Men’s Central Jail, repealing the city’s anti-camping law that leads to the harassment unhoused people, expanding city protection of street vendors, ending the criminalization of vehicle code violations, and establishing programs to help people fix their cars, remove cops from schools, cap oil wells in the city, and move money out of the LAPD’s budget towards social programs like child care and housing. She is endorsed by the LA Times.     

Fun donor facts: Hernandez’s donors include comedians Nick Kroll and Kulap Vilaysack, Black Lives Matter movement co-founder Patrisse Cullors, and the Librarians Guild PAC. 

District 3:

District 3 covers the far western parts of the city, along with the southwestern San Fernando Valley. Communities such as Canoga Park, Reseda, Tarzana, and Winnetka. 

Bob Blumenfield has been the city council member for the district since 2013. If he’s reelected, this will be his last term in office. Blumenfield is the co-author of the city’s 41.18 ordinances that makes it illegal to sleep on streets and sidewalks in the city and that has been used to harass unhoused people. On the other hand, he also has been an advocate for building tiny homes to house the houseless in and converting two hotels in Woodland Hills into housing for unhoused families and seniors.

Fun donor facts: The Fox Corporation, Clear Channel Worldwide, and Grubhub have all donated to Blumenfield’s campaign. 

Scott Silverstein, a commercial real estate broker, and Woodland Hills Warner Center Neighborhood Council member, is Bluemnfield’s only contender in this race. Silverstein advocates for something he calls M.O.R.E., or mental health over real estate, where private developers would, in theory, develop homeless centers with rehab facilities and then lease them to the city. Another great way for developers to make money. He also thinks that the single-family homes in the Valley are “under siege from Sacramento politicians hell-bent on destroying them” and he vows to defend them on his website.

Fun donor facts: No fun donors to mention 🙁

District 5:

District 5 includes Westside, the Santa Monica Mountains, and southern San Fernando Valley communities, including Encino, Fairfax, Hollywood, Palms, Pico Robertson, and Westwood. The current city council member for the district, Paul Koretz, is ending his last term on the council by next year, so this race is wide open. 

Jimmy Biblarz is a professor at UCLA Law School who’s running for this seat. Biblarz says he’s a renter in Mid-City West who wants to adopt a “real housing-first model” in his district, including more rental assistance programs to keep people from being kicked out of their homes, building more housing with “lower-cost materials and construction techniques,” and developing some sort of funding system for affordable housing. He also wants to invest in more city buses and demilitarize the LAPD. Not to mention, he supports our own independent journalism by being part of L.A. TACO’s Membership Program.

Fun donor facts: Writer Gene Stone and Worldcoin CEO Max Novendtern, have both donated to Biblarz.

Scott Epstein is a former Mid-City West Neighborhood Council board chair, the founder of Midtown Los Angeles Homeless Coalition, and a COVID-19 tracer at UCLA, who is also running for this seat. On his website, Epstein states that he wants to repeal the city’s anti-camping ordinance that leads to the harassment of unhoused people. He says that housing is a human right, and seeks to reallocate funds from the police, set up independent civilian oversight of the department, and reallocate money from the department to housing and anti-poverty services, and infrastructure projects. He also wants to increase the size of the city council.   

Fun donor facts: Writer Justin Halpern, and Richard and Gloria Pink, the owners of Pink’s Hot Dogs, all donated to Epstein’s campaign. 

Sam Yebri is an attorney that wants to hire more LAPD officers, build more mental health facilities, phase out oil drilling in the city, and increase rental assistance programs. On his website, he says that he gave up his car seven years ago and walks or takes public transit, or gets a ride, to get around town instead.    

Fun donor facts: Ellen Sandler, the former co-executive producer of Everybody Loves Raymond, and Tracy Sandler, the CEO of FanGirlSports, both donated to Yebri’s campaign. 

Katy Young Yaroslavsky is an environmental lawyer and the daughter-in-law of former L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. Yarolsavsky developed Measure W, which allows the county to capture rainwater and protect creeks and streams, while working as a policy advisor for L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. She says she wants to take her experience in environmental advocacy to the city council and implement policies that help mitigate climate change, including the phasing out of oil drilling in the district, as well as providing green spaces within walking distance of every city resident, and building out the city’s bike lanes and Metro system. She does have an odd, somehow neutral stance on the city’s anti-camping law.       

Fun donor facts: The Los Angeles County Council on Political Education and the “Maria Elena Durazo for Senate 2022” committee have both donated to her campaign. 

District 7:

District 7 includes the northeastern part of the San Fernando Valley. Communities include Pacoima, Sunland-Tujunga, and Sylmar. 

Elisa Avalos is the president of the community activist group Pacoima Beautiful and former president of the Pacoima Neighborhood Council, and the only challenger of incumbent Monica Rodriquez. On her website, Avalos says she wants to “address the homeless issue with stringent fiscal responsibility, legislate with consideration for the needs of the homeless AND the needs of local business and residents, and advocate to reestablish our state mental health facilities,” plus force companies to comply with the state’s California Environmental Quality Act or CEQA laws, and “save” single-family neighborhoods, horse communities, and open space in the district. She’s endorsed by both Defend the LAPD and the Los Angeles Police Officers Association.    

Fund donor facts: Visa Aviation Inc, an aviation parts and maintenance business that operates inside of Whiteman Airport– a small airport in Pacoima that Pacoima Beautiful has advocated and organized to close— donated to Avalos’ campaign, as did the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association PAC.     

Monica Rodriquez has represented the district since 2017. Rodriquez co-introduced the city’s anti-camping ordinance, 41.18. On her website, she talks about wanting to strengthen neighborhood policing programs and expand neighborhood and business watch programs, as well as repair sidewalks and take care of neighborhood blight around the district. She also, like Avalos’ organization, Pacoima Beautiful, advocates for the closure of Whiteman Airport.   

Fun donor facts: Southern California Edison, artist Steve Ponce, and Hollywood Hookah have all donated to Rodriquez’s campaign. 

District 9

District 9 includes a lot of South L.A. and parts of downtown. 

Curren Price Jr. has been the city council member for District 9 since 2013. Price has led the push to pass legislation that bans employers from asking potential employees if they have prior criminal convictions. He’s also led the city in creating programs like the Big: Leap basic income program and been involved in some interesting things on possibly the opposite side of the ethical spectrum, like championing a skyscraper complex that blasts digital billboards and arguably speeds up gentrification in South L.A., as well as voting for projects that benefit his wife’s consulting company. He was also one of three council members, including Cedillo, that backed an initiative to reduce the LAPD’s budget by 150 million dollars in 2020, and then voted to increase the LAPD’s budget a year later. If Price wins, this would be the last term he could serve on the council.    

Fun donor facts: Movie producer, ex-chair of Disney Studios, co-founder of Dreamworks Animation, and the guy behind Quibi, (remember that?) Jeffrey Katzenberg donated to Price’s campaign, as have a lot of realtors and developers (but that’s not unique among people donating to local political campaigns), including Gary Safady, who’s been looking to build a luxury hotel in Benedict Canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains.  

Dulce Vasquez is Price’s only competitor in this race. Vasquez is a director of strategic partnerships for Arizona State University, which has a satellite campus downtown. She has received some pushback and criticism about how new she is to the district. She’s trying to run as a progressive against Price, but her policy ideas are a little vague. She says on her website that housing is a human right, and she wants more of it and is a fan of public transportation. She also thinks that the LAPD doesn’t need any more officers. 

Fun donor facts: Raul Porto, the president of Porto’s Bakery, and Michael Dieden, the CEO of Creative Housing Associates, a “neighborhood and transit-oriented” building firm, both donated to Vasquez’s campaign.   

District 11

Mike Bonin, the council’s most reliably progressive voice, isn’t running this year for “personal reasons.” So this race is wide open too. 

District 11 covers Westside communities like Brentwood, Venice, and Mar Vista. 

Erin Darling, is a civil rights lawyer who is running to kind of take the place of Bonin as the staunchly progressive candidate for the district. Darling wants to build more affordable housing, institute a vacancy tax where landlords with vacant homes are taxed for not housing people in them, convert motels and unused commercial spaces into housing, and have people who are being threatened with eviction to have the right to legal counsel to defend them. He also wants to shut down the SoCal Gas Playa Del Rey methane storage facility and get the city to switch to 100% renewable energy by 2035. 

Fun donor facts: Real estate developer Thomas Safran gave some money to Darling’s campaign. 

Greg Good is a commissioner on L.A.’s Board of Public Works, and quite a contrast to Bonin. He also served, in the past, in a number of positions in Mayor Garcetti’s administration. Good wants to expand the city’s emergency rental ordinance and other eviction defenses, as well as enforce more of the anti-camping laws and give at least $200,000 out of the district’s funds to pay the LAPD to work overtime “in specific areas of the district where profligate drug trafficking is making it more difficult for some unsheltered folks to say yes to housing options.”   

Fun donor facts: BNSF Railway Company, one of the largest freight railroad companies in the country and the owner of Hobart Yard in Commerce, donated to Good’s campaign, as did Warner Bros. Discovery.  

Alison Holdorff Polhill recently worked as the chief advisor and district director to the vice president of the Los Angeles Unified School District for Westside communities, and she seems to be running to the right of Good. Her ideas are to heavily enforce the city’s no camping laws, especially in Centennial Park, and increase the number of LAPD officers by as much as 11,000. 

Fun donor facts: Real estate developer Thomas Safran and former LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner have donated to her campaign. 

Midsanon “Soni” Lloyd is a history teacher at Venice High School, a United Teachers Los Angeles Co-Chair, and a big anti-COVID vaccine mandate guy. His three most important principles, according to his website, suggest “medical freedom, tax the billionaires, invest in the people,” which includes opposing COVID vaccine mandates for LAUSD staff. As Yo! Venice! Reports, he’s now working outside the district through Zoom as an online teacher after having taken a religious exemption “from current classroom instruction.” 

Fun donor facts: Looks like Lloyd has received no campaign donations, so no fun donor facts 🙁

Jim Murez is the president of the Venice Neighborhood Council who wants to create “transitional service centers” if elected, which he describes on his website as places where unhoused people can camp away from residential and retail areas where the city would provide restrooms, showers and electricity, and “staff to help transition those individuals who want a better standard of living.” He also is a big fan of the broken windows theory of policing, and he wants to increase the ranks of the LAPD. 

Fun donor facts: Jay Penske, the CEO of Penske Media Corporation, which owns magazines like Variety, Rolling Stone, and Deadline Hollywood, has donated to Murez’s campaign. 

Mike Newhouse runs his own law firm and wants to be a “strong, moderate voice” for the district. Not surprising, but that means doing not-so-moderate things like clearing “ALL” (his emphasis, not mine) tents and encampments in the entire district and directing people to theoretically available shared housing options and even “emergency FEMA-type shelters.” He does want the city to set up a hotline that people can call if they’re about to become unhoused, to connect them with services like “funding, a voucher, a job, immediate child care, transportation, or mental support.” He also wants 1,500 more cops, which he says should include “civilian LAPD employees.”

Fun donor facts: Producer Tony Bill, lots of real estate developers, and the Los Angeles County Business PAC have all donated to Newhouse. 

Traci Park is a partner at Burke, Williams, and Sorensen, a law firm where she specializes in employment law, labor relations, and litigation. She started her interest in local politics after standing against the city using a Ramada Inn close to her house for transitional housing for unhoused people through Project Roomkey, and her politics seemed to have evolved from there. She argues that the city violated state environmental laws by housing people in the Ramada Inn and that the building itself should be “protected and preserved.” On her website, she says she wants to house people in a variety of ways, like shared housing, building more affordable and permanent supportive housing units, and increasing rental assistance to people on the edge of losing their homes. She also thinks that law enforcement agencies are “significantly understaffed,” and that Sheriff Villanueva’s cowboy hat stunt on the Venice Beach Boardwalk last year was a good thing to do.    

Fun donor facts: Again, lots of real estate companies and developers have given to her campaign, as well as Tony Antoci, the CEO of Erewhon.  

Mat Smith owns a medical delivery business. He’s the only Republican running in the district. Smith says he’ll “back the blue,” “re-fund” the police, and that “shelter is a right, while housing is EARNED.” His emphasis, not mine.  

Fun donor facts: Smith gave himself most of the money for his campaign.

District 13

District 13 includes communities in Central L.A. like Silverlake, Echo Park, Hollywood, and Koreatown. 

Albert Corado is a community organizer running for this seat on the city council. In 2018, Corado’s sister, Melyda Corado, a store manager at a Trader Joe’s in Silverlake, was killed by the LAPD, who fired recklessly into the crowded store when Gene Elvin Atkins took the store and its patrons hostage after a car chase with the police. Corado is now a prominent figure for the abolition of the police and redistributing their budgets to social services. He also says he wants to establish a vacancy tax for landlords and developers who leave housing empty, and another tax on landlords who use eminent domain to seize vacant property for housing, and also get lawyers for tenets who are about to be evicted to defend themselves, end the city’s sweeps of unhoused encampments, and promises to build more public restrooms in his district.     

Fun donor facts: Amber Navran of the band Moonchild, and mayoral candidate Gina Viola, have both donated to Corado’s campaign. 

Steve Johnson is an LASD sergeant, who’s running on a pretty right-of-center campaign. Johnson says he wants to build more trailers, modular homes, and “industrial tents” for unhoused people and talks about the need for sending out mental health professionals to respond to calls dealing with individuals having mental health issues. He’s also a big “Recall D.A. Gascon” guy and wants to hire another 11,000 LAPD officers. 

Fun donor facts: No fun donor facts 🙁

Mitch O’Farrell, like a lot of current council members already talked about here, has been on the city council since 2013. O’Farrell came up with Garcetti through local politics in the early 2000s. As a member of the Wyandotte Nation, he’s the first Native American person on the city council. He’s had a contentious run on the council for the past couple of years, first opposing a broader COVID-19 eviction moratorium at the beginning of the pandemic, but most of all, with his involvement in the eviction and displacement of 200 people who camped at Echo Park last year, which preceded the LAPD’s violent encounter with peaceful protesters there. A report from the UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy found that a year after the sweep of the park, only 17 people have been placed in long term housing, while 84 were either, still waiting in t bureaucracy for housing, disappeared, or back to sleeping on the street, while six others had died. O’Farrell says he wants to continue producing affordable housing units, creating policies that mitigate climate change, and reduce homelessness. 

Fun donor facts: The L.A. Football Club donated to O’Farrell’s campaign. 

Kate Pynoos is a former policy advisor for Mike Bonin. She does not support the city’s anti-camping ordinances and she wants to expand affordable housing incentive programs, create new ones, increase rental subsidies for people on the brink of losing their homes, build more affordable housing, and save the affordable housing we already have. She states on her website that housing is a human right. She, along with Corado and Hugo Soto-Martinez, also signed the People’s Budget Coalition’s no new cops pledge to not hire any more police officers.

Fun donor facts: Councilmember Nithya Raman and writer Brian Lynch both donated to Pynoos’ campaign. 

Hugo Soto-Martinez is a union organizer with UNITE HERE Local 11. He has said that he wants to convert vacant and underused spaces like motels and office buildings into housing, implement tenant protections to keep people in their homes, make the Metro free, and establish a public bank for the city. He’s been a little mum about his exact position on abolishing the police, but he signed the no new cops pledge along with Corado and Pynoos, and said that he wants to see more mental health counselors, mediators, and addiction specialists instead of police officers.     

Fun donor facts: Councilmember Nithya Raman and comedian and actor John Early both donated to Soto-Martinez’s campaign. 

District 15

Councilmember Joe Busciano ran, and then conceded, the race for the mayor’s office, so this city council seat is wide open. 

District 15 covers San Pedro, Wilmington, Harbor City, Harbor Gateway, and Watts. 

Tim McOsker is the CEO of AltaSea, a public-private partnership that includes ocean-based technology, economy facilities, and research and development at the Port of L.A. He’s a former lobbyist for the L.A. Police Protective League, the LAPD union, and the former chief of staff for former Mayor James Hahn. He wants the city council to “embrace creative housing solutions like container construction, tiny homes,” and “renovation of existing facilities (whether private or publicly owned)” while focusing on immediately sheltering people.     

Fun donor facts: McOsker himself is his campaign’s own main contributor, but BNSF Railway, marina developer Joseph Ueberroth, the Home Depot PAC, the California Apartment Association PAC, and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce PAC also donated to his campaign.  

Bryant Odega is an environmental activist and an LAUSD substitute teacher who’s running as the progressive candidate in this race. He’s also the only candidate this election cycle, and one of the only candidates in the district ever, to live north of San Pedro. Odega has said that 100 million dollars should be cut from the LAPD’s budget and redistributed to social programs like public housing, mental health resources, and public transportation. He has also said that rent for everyone who can’t pay their rent because of COVID-19 hardships should be canceled. He’s also talked about first wanting to implement buffer zones between neighborhoods and schools, and then eventually phase out oil drilling in L.A., create more farmers’ markets in food deserts, and support more public housing as a way to combat environmental racism. He also wants to create a local Medicare For All program and raise the minimum wage to $24.  

Fun donor facts: Mayoral candidate Gina Viola donated to Odega’s campaign. 

Danielle Sandoval is the president of the Harbor City Neighborhood Council, and a former treasurer and president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Federated Auxiliary 8. Sandoval describes herself as pro-union, and interested in creating more green spaces in the district, as well as creating more youth programs and career development programs. She also talks about reducing the number of polluting diesel trucks in the district coming from the port, ensuring that “Airbnb’s are not consuming all our housing stock,” and creating a program that helps renters with paying security positions, first month’s rent, and other application fees piled on renters.  

Fun donor facts: The Ship Scalers & Painters Union ILWU Local 56 and The City Lights Gateway Foundation donated to Sandoval’s campaign. 

Anthony D. Santich used to work in a bunch of different positions at the Port of L.A. He’s got an interesting and seemingly very localized platform that focuses a lot on generating money for the district and protecting the environment while protecting jobs through the profits the port makes. Deploying a system of incentives and penalties he calls the “Port Impacts Fund,” Santich says he can generate 100 million dollars in five years for improvements in infrastructure, environmental programs, and a program to help the port and port businesses hire locals, and fight against automation and the loss of union jobs. He also wants to increase spending on training for police and outreach workers.

Fun donor facts: No fun donor facts. Santich gave his own campaign a lot of money, but he does seem to be getting a lot of donors from locals and people working in and around the port.  

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