The contenders, from left: Kevin de León, Monica García, Cyndi Otteson, Raquel Zamora and John Jimenez.

Race Heats Up to Represent NELA in the City Council

2020 Editions Featured Front Page January More News

By T. A. Hendrickson

Feb 3 Update on Race for CD-14:  At a candidate forum on Monday night put on by The Eagle Rock Association, the five candidates for City Council from CD-14 made their cases to an audience of about 150 residents.

Each of the candidates said how they would respond to homelessness and meet the need for supportive and affordable housing. Each also discussed plans to tackle transportation problems, environmental challenges and other pressing issues.

The biggest point of disagreement was over what it takes to be the councilmember for CD-14, which is arguably the most important council district in L.A. Veteran elected officials, Kevin de Leon and Monica Garcia, emphasized their experience and accomplishments in office, while grassroots candidates John Jimenez, Cyndi Otteson and Raquel Zamora emphasized their independence from large donor influence.

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Five candidates have qualified for the ballot in the race to become the next Los Angeles city councilmember for Council District 14.

Two are well known names in state and local elected politics. Kevin de León is a former state Senate President Pro Tem who represented many communities in and near Northeast L.A during his tenure in the state Senate from 2010 to 2018. Mónica García is a 13-year member and frequent president of the L.A. Unified School Board whose Board District 2 overlaps with several neighborhoods in and near NELA and throughout CD 14.

Three other contenders are grassroots candidates: Cyndi Otteson of Eagle Rock; Raquel Zamora of Boyle Heights; and John Jimenez, also of Boyle Heights.

Otteson is a businesswoman and mother, board president of a refugee-aid nonprofit, and a former vice president of the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council. Zamora is a social worker, student counselor and mother with a track record of community service. Jimenez is the executive of a nonprofit that focuses on education in L.A. eastside communities.

There is no incumbent: José Huizar, councilmember for CD 14 since 2005, is being termed out.

In fundraising and endorsements, De León is way out front, followed by García, Otteson, Zamora and Jimenez. But the race is not a wrap.

De León’s opponents say he would use the office as a stepping stone for a mayoral run in 2022, rather than serve a full city council term; De León says he is focused on the present, not the future.

García brings her own strong credentials and connections in CD 14 to the race, while Otteson and Zamora bring an insurgent energy that was underscored recently when they shared the coveted endorsement of the United Teachers of L.A.  

Election Day for the primary is March 3, 2020. If no one candidate wins more than 50% of the primary vote, the top two vote getters advance to a runoff on November 3.

The Boulevard Sentinel asked the same five questions to each of the five candidates:

• Why are you running?
• In your view, what are the top two issues facing Council District 14?
• If elected, how would you address those issues?
• Eagle Rock has been roiled by controversy over the route for Metro’s proposed bus rapid transit through town. Do you favor a route on Colorado Boulevard or on the 134 Freeway? Or are you undecided?
• Please list other aspects of your background and candidacy that you would like readers of the Boulevard Sentinel to know.

For the answers of each of the candidates, click on their names below.

Kevin de Leon
Monica Garcia
John Jimenez
Cyndi Otteson
Raquel Zamora



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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.

T.A. Hendrickson
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.