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The L.A. Taco Voting Guide to Deciding Between Raman vs. Ryu and Mitchell vs. Wesson

3:51 PM PDT on October 21, 2020

[dropcap size=big]W[/dropcap]ho gets to represent 10 million residents of L.A. County and wield a 35 billion dollar budget that oversees everything from the county’s public health system to the Sheriff's Department to county services for unhoused residents? Only five people called the L.A. County Board of Supervisors. That’s one person representing two million people. So yeah, that’s a lot of power. 

The Board seat up for grabs in this election in Mark Ridley Thomas’ District 2 seat that stretches from south L.A. to Inglewood to Koreatown and parts of Hollywood. Your candidates for this seat are Herb Wesson, the City Council member for the 10th district, and Holly Mitchell, the current California State Senate representative for Culver City, Ladera Heights, and parts of Inglewood and Crenshaw and Florence.

This race kind of mirrors a lot of elections going on across the city in that Wesson represents the old, liberal guard of Democratic politics in L.A. while Mitchell is trying to represent the more progressive wing. The legendary L.A. journalist Bill Boyarsky referred to Wesson as the “not so secret boss of Los Angeles,” who shepherded the $15 an hour minimum wage. He did this through the council after years of work by activist groups to raise attention and creating a Homelessness and Poverty Committee. But Wesson has also been involved in real estate and developer deals (which are all the rage among politicians in the city like Wesson’s good friend, Jose Huizar.) Wesson also was the chair of the L.A. Olympic Bid Committee and a big proponent of 2017’s Charter Amendment C, which gave LAPD officers a choice in discipline proceedings to go in front of a review panel made up of people nominally hand-picked by the police commission. Groups like the ACLU, LACAN, and Black Lives Matter opposed the amendment saying that it gave too much power to people who were likely to be sympathetic to law enforcement officers in discipline proceedings. 

On the other hand, Mitchell has led efforts to ban police from putting people in chokeholds and efforts to create an oversight board for L.A.’s extremely violent Sheriff’s department. She’s also passed legislation that makes it illegal for landlords to discriminate against tenants that use Section 8 vouchers.“Communities have been rising up and saying they’re not going to allow police unions to dictate policies,” Mithcell told the Daily Breeze, “The[y] want public health, affordable housing and a solid economy.”

City Council District 4

By Mariah Castañeda

The contentious race to represent City Council District 4 has garnered national attention, with Bernie Sanders endorsing Nithya Raman, and establishment Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Hilary Clinton both getting involved and endorsing David Ryu.

Raman is challenging incumbent Ryu. Raman is an urban planner who holds a Master’s degree in urban planning from MIT. Raman has an immigrant background and was born in India. Raman is one of the founders of SELAH Neighborhood Homeless Coalition, which provides resources like hot meals, showers, clothes, and other resources to unhoused Angelenos. She also was the executive director of Time’s Up Entertainment, which came out of the #MeToo movement.

Ryu is the current City Councilman representing District 4. Like Raman, Ryu is an immigrant; he was born in South Korea. Ryu grew up in East Hollywood and attended Bravo Medical Magnet Highschool. He holds a Masters in Public Policy from Rutgers. Ryu also worked with the Korean American Coalition and LA County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke in the past.

Raman and Ryu are facing off to represent the weirdly shaped City Council District 4.

So who lives in CD 4?

Folks living in Beachwood Canyon, Beverly Crest, Bird Streets, Brookside, Cahuenga Pass, Citrus Square, Central Hollywood, Coldwater Canyon, Country Club Heights, Doheny Estates, Franklin Canyon, Franklin Hills, Fremont Place, Griffith Park, Hancock Park, Hollywood, Hollywoodland, Hollywood Dell, Hollywood Grove, Hollywood Heights, Hollywood Hills, Hollywood Knolls, Hollywood Manor, Koreatown, La Brea - Hancock, Lake Hollywood Estates, Lakeridge Estates, Larchmont Village, Laurel Canyon, Laurel Hills, Los Feliz, Melrose, Miracle Mile, Mount Olympus, Mulholland, Nichols Canyon, North Beverly Park, Outpost Estates, Ridgewood-Wilton, Sherman Oaks, Silver Lake, Spaulding Square, St. Andrews Square, Sunset Hills, Sunset Square, Sycamore Square, The Oaks, Toluca Lake, Van Nuys, Whitley Heights, Wilshire Park, Windsor Square, and Windsor Village all call District 4 home.

That’s a lot of neighborhoods. About a quarter-million people live in District 4, and incomes vary, with residents in Beverly Crest raking in a median of $169,000 per household and residents in Koreatown bringing in a median of $30,000 per household.

Raman is running on an aggressively progressive platform that addresses the unhoused community in Los Angeles. She pointed out the racial disparities in her platform, reminding the public that while Black Angelenos represent nine percent of the general population, they are 40 percent of the unhoused population. Raman’s platform touts “robust affordable and supportive housing development, assertive rent stabilization and eviction prevention measures” as her method of addressing and preventing houselessness. She is also against sweeps, an inhumane policy that leads to unhoused residents losing shelter and important documents such as birth certificates and IDs. The unhoused community has swelled to 41,290 in Los Angele in 2020.

Raman has also pledged to help make City Hall work for the people by pledging not to take a single cent from corporate donors. She also plans on fighting the City Council’s “Culture of backroom negotiations” where the City Council votes unanimously 97 percent of the time.

Raman’s platform also supports a greener LA that embraces the Green New Deal.

Incumbent Ryu runs on a platform that aims to reprioritize L.A.’s budget to “fund some of LA’s most vulnerable.” Ryu also says he wants to build more affordable housing, bring in higher-wage jobs, and mental services alongside affordable healthcare services. 

Ryu notably adopted more progressive stances recently, with the L.A. Times crediting Raman with pushing Ryu to the left, despite endorsing the incumbent.

Instead of giving brownie points to Ryu for his ability to be pushed left, why don’t we credit the thoughtful policymaker that pushed Ryu to have more progressive policies and vote in Nithya Raman? 

Raman is a skilled policymaker, and her policies have already impacted city hall. Knock LA  credited her for creating several policies that L.A. lawmakers, including Ryu, appeared to have copied. However, in a story by Lisa Kwon recently published on The LAnd, Kwon notes Raman’s willingness to lead by example, saying, “she would gladly let City Council copy her homework.’

Raman has notably refused to accept donations from developers. Ryu made a similar pledge; however, multiple developers and real estate lawyers were found to have contributed to Ryu’s campaign last year. Ryu told The Real Deal that his campaign would refund donations from developers with “active projects” but would continue to accept donations from architects and land use consultants that work with developers.

Raman’s pledge comes at the heels of former City Councilman Jose Huizar’s arrest by the FBI. Huizar was charged in a federal corruption probe for accusations of taking bribes from developers to approve new developments.

Instead of giving brownie points to Ryu for his ability to be pushed left, why don’t we credit the thoughtful policymaker that pushed Ryu to have more progressive policies and vote in Nithya Raman? 

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