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Kenneth Mejia Declares Victory in City Controller Race, Becomes First Filipino Elected Official in L.A.

Mejia delivering his victory speech, screenshot via People’s City Council/@PplsCityCouncil Twitter

Kenneth Mejia declared victory over Paul Koretz just minutes after polls closed on Tuesday night.

“WE DID IT! WE WON BY 23 POINTS!” Mejia wrote in a tweet 31 minutes after the polls closed, presumably when there were still people waiting in line to vote at polling stations. Mejia still maintains a 21 point lead over Koretz as of early Wednesday morning. So far, Mejia has garnered more votes than both mayoral candidates.

Mejia’s win over Koretz makes him the first Filipino elected official, his campaign said on Tuesday night. He’s also the first POC city controller in more than a century. Koretz admitted on Wednesday that he "clearly [is] not going to win."

The Mejia campaign will surely offer a blueprint strategy for future progressive candidates. The relatively unknown certified public accountant won a contentious race by a landslide through leveraging Tik Tok and other social media platforms. He also spent money on billboards that explicitly showed how much of the city’s budget goes to policing versus other government services. The campaign provided useful resources to voters, as well, including a map of affordable housing units across Los Angeles, in offering himself as an option for the role of the city’s accountant and auditor.

Koretz, on the other hand, won the endorsement of previous city controllers but failed to impress voters. June’s primary election wasn’t even close; Mejia received nearly two times as many votes as his opponent. And the general election looks like it’s headed in a similar direction, although it may take days or even weeks to tally up all the votes.

Instead of convincing voters why they should vote for Koretz, currently a council member and a longtime political figure, the Koretz campaign attempted to paint Mejia as an out-of-control extremist. In particular, they made light of comments that Mejia previously made about President Joe Biden, and singled out some of the members of his team for their activism.

“People say a grassroots, city-wide campaign can’t win…we just proved them all wrong,” Mejia said on Tuesday evening.

“Our opponent has ran one of the dirtiest campaigns I've ever seen,” Mejia’s campaign manager, Jane Nguyen, said last night at the campaign's victory party. “It’s not enough just to drag Kenneth’s name through the mud; they had to viciously attack some of the youngest members on our team for daring to speak out.”

Nguyen, a community activist who helped launch K-Town For All, signed on to lead Mejia’s campaign two years ago and was instrumental in crafting his campaign strategy; ultimately helping secure victories for the candidate in both the primary and general elections. The two met in 2018 when Mejia was a neighborhood council boardmember and Nguyen was advocating for unhoused residents in the neighborhood. Mejia asked Nguyen to be his campaign manager two years later while protesting outside of the mayor’s residence during the early protests surrounding George Floyd’s killing at the hands of police officers and have been working side-by-side ever since.

“We will never apologize for confronting and challenging power, we will always stand by and fight alongside people demanding a better way of life from people in power…and when Kenneth is in office I will hold him accountable to that,” Nguyen said on Tuesday.

As city controller, Mejia will handle the city’s bills and audit its spending. After declaring victory last night, Mejia described the moment as one of the best in his life. A day earlier, the 31-year-old candidate celebrated another spin around the sun.

“This is the best damn birthday gift ever!” he said last night while claiming victory.

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