By T. A. Hendrickson
Vote tallies from the March 3 primary were certified by election officials on March 27. The results shown below – of five local races and two ballot initiatives – will shape the public life of Northeast Los Angeles for years to come.
City Council District 14
Kevin de León, with nearly 53% of the vote, will be the next city councilmember for L.A.’s Council District 14, which includes downtown L.A., Eagle Rock, parts of Highland Park and Glassell Park, and other nearby areas. He replaces José Huizar, who is being termed out.
De León defeated four rivals on the strength of his experience as a former member of the state Assembly and leader of the state Senate representing districts that overlap CD 14. De León also dominated the race in terms of endorsements, fundraising and campaign organizing.
De León’s opponents tried to tar him by saying that he was likely to run for L.A. mayor in 2022 rather than devote himself to a full term on the City Council. De León emphasized what he could get done for the area starting now rather than what he might do in the future. Bolstering his message, De León showed a detailed grasp of local issues during the campaign and was able to point to a strong legislative track record in Sacramento, including his leadership role in the passage of laws addressing homelessness, affordable housing, energy and parks.
California Assembly, 51st Assembly District
Wendy Carrillo, assemblymember for NELA’s state Assembly District 51, ran unopposed for reelection and so will return to Sacramento to serve her second full term. Carrillo’s accomplishments include co-authoring AB 1482, the rent control bill signed into law in 2019 to protect against excessive rent increases and unjust evictions.
Carrillo also co-authored AB 392 to address the disproportionate harm to communities of color by police use of deadly force and is a champion of parks and open green space in urban areas.
U.S. House of Representatives, 34th Congressional District
Jimmy Gomez, the incumbent U.S. Representative for NELA’s 34th Congressional District, dominated the five-candidate primary with 52% of the vote, followed by challenger David Kim, with 21%.
Under the rules for congressional races, Gomez and Kim will compete in the general election on Nov. 3.
In the House of Representatives, Gomez is the Vice Chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform and a member of the powerful tax-writing Ways and Means committee.
Kim, a lawyer, is a community organizer and neighborhood council board member. Kim has criticized Gomez’s acceptance of corporate campaign donations and called for universal basic income for each U.S. citizen of $1,000 a month, Medicare for All and free college education.
L.A. County District Attorney
In the most closely watched race of the local election season, incumbent L.A. County District Attorney Jackie Lacey has been forced into a runoff against George Gascón, formerly the D.A. and Chief of Police in San Francisco and a former assistant police chief in L.A. The runoff will take place in the general election on November 3.
Lacey won nearly 49% of the vote to Gascón’s 28%. The race has come down to a contest over approaches to criminal justice policy, with Lacey defending her moderate style and targeted reforms and Gascón calling for major reform initiatives.
L.A. Unified, School Board District 5
Jackie Goldberg was reelected to the L.A. Unified School Board for NELA’s Board District 5 with 58% of the vote in a two-way race.
Goldberg is a popular elected official in L.A., having served on the school board in the 1980s and, after that, on the City Council and in the state Assembly before returning to the school board via a special election in 2019.
Goldberg’s lesser-known opponent, Christina Martinez Duran, ran a low-profile campaign, but drew strong financial backing from charter school supporters, including $744,000 for attack ads against Goldberg paid for by businessman and charter school ally, Bill Bloomfield.
The question going forward is whether the school board will be dominated by members like Goldberg who favor traditional public schools or by supporters of charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately run.
The answer depends on the outcome of races in Board District 3 and Board District 7, where two candidates ideologically aligned with Goldberg face runoffs in November against pro-charter school candidates. In BD 3, incumbent Scott Schmerelson will face off against pro-charter school candidate, Marilyn Koziatek. In BD 7, candidate Patricia Castellanos will face off against pro-charter school candidate Tanya Ortiz-Franklin.
Statewide Measure 13
This $15 billion bond measure to raise money for school repair, renovation and construction was defeated by voters statewide, though in L.A. County most voters (54%) were in favor of it.
The defeat of Measure 13 is the second blow to efforts to raise money for schools since the L.A. teacher strike in 2019. Last June, L.A. voters defeated Measure EE, a 16-cents per-square-foot parcel tax intended to help meet the teachers’ demands for smaller class sizes and other improvements.
A third attempt to raise money for schools will be on the ballot in November. Unlike the defeated Measure 13 bond proposal, the upcoming initiative actually does relate to California’s original tax-cutting Proposition 13 from 1978: It will propose higher taxes on corporations that currently avoid them under Prop. 13.
L.A. County Measure R
This measure to expand the powers of the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission was passed overwhelmingly, with 73% of voters in favor. The measure will allow for more in-depth investigations of the Sheriff’s Department and calls for a plan to reduce the jail population of L.A. County.
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T.A. Hendrickson, a native of Eagle Rock, is the editor of the Boulevard Sentinel and a former member of the Editorial Board of the New York Times.