Hardly anyone will notice it but today is Election Day in Los Angeles CA. This is the oddest of off year elections because there is no race for Mayor to draw attention. Only the true hardcore compulsive voters voted today. More than half of the votes will have been cast before today through vote-by-mail absentee ballots.I was the first voter at my precinct today and I voted at 7:05AM, five minutes after the polls opened. Polls are open until 8PM today 3/3/2015. The first results will show up on the city website by 9PM or so. With any luck most of the counting will be over by midnight. There won't be many votes to count. Most Angelenos are more involved with the struggles of our local sports teams than our elected officials. Viva los Dodgers and Go Clippers, Lakers and Kings but the elections are more important to the future of our city and metro area. There will be some interesting races tonight though. The even numbered seats on the L.A. City Council are up for election as well as the odd numbered seats on the LAUSD school board and the LACCD community colleges board. Follow me past the orange cloud out to the races.
The most important things on the ballot might not be the council races but two ballot measures to decide when we should have city elections. Currently we have elections early in odd years with the primary on the first Tuesday in March and the runoffs in May. This has resulted in recent years in some embarassingly low voter turnout percentages. The odd year elections were done to give the city its own election cycle where it would not be overshadowed by federal and state elections but the public has lost interest. We now have two elections every year which is too many. Charter Amendments 1 and 2 would align the city elections with the federal and state ones in June and November of even numbered years. 1 is for the city and 2 is for the LAUSD. I strongly support these measures because they will get more people voting on city matters and will save money for the government by avoiding the cost of the separate elections.If people voted in the odd year elections they might be worthwhile but the days of 70% turnout haven't been around since it was Tom Bradley running against Sam Yorty for Mayor. The odd year elections have outlived their usefulness. Vote Yes on 1 and 2!
L.A. City Council:
CD-2 (Studio City, Valley Village in the east SFV): Paul Krekorian is the incumbent. I now live in this district and voted for Paul K. who is one of the better people on the council. He will win easily against one Some Dude. At one time I lived in the district of the other Paul K. on the city council. DKE trivia question: What is the other Paul's last name and what district is he from? What was the previous elective office that both Paul Ks held in the past?
CD-4 (Sherman Oaks, parts of Hollywood, Los Feliz, Griffith Park and the Miracle Mile) I moved out of this district at the wrong time. Longtime councilmember Tom LaBonge is termed out of this snakelike district. There are fourteen candidates running from various parts of the district. There are council and state legislative staffers, a former Assemblymember (Wally Knox) and a current member of the LACCD Board of Trustees (Steve Veres). There are several who have a chance to make the runoff; the only thing certain here is that nobody will get 50%+1 so there will be a runoff. I would probably vote for Veres. He has some of the Democratic endorsements and is from the Valley side of the district, which has always elected someone from the other side of the hills before. Veres also previously served on the San Fernando City Council so he has some city governance experience (though for a city of 25,000 not 3.75 million people).
CD-6 (Van Nuys, mid-SFV) This is a rematch between candidates who faced each other last time in a special election after Tony Cardenas was elected to Congress. Nury Martinez won that runoff and is now Los Angeles' only Councilwoman. Cindy Montanez, a former CA Assemblymember, is trying again to win the seat. Martinez has the advantage of incumbency and more money so I would expect her to retain her seat. I still think Cindy is the better candidate so I would have voted for her if I lived in this district where I work. Van Nuys is very nice, but it's not Paradise!
CD-8 (Downtown aka "DTLA", part of South L.A.) Former LAPD Chief Bernard Parks is termed out of this council seat. There are a few candidates irunning including one that ran against Parks four years ago. Her name is Forescee Hogan-Rowles. I liked her candidate statement (as seen on LA35 public access cable). There are two dudes and another woman running. I think her name is Bobbie Jean Anderson and she has some Democratic endorsements. The guy I heard about is Marqueece Something-Hyphenated. I can't follow city politics very thoroughly during tax season. Maybe others with more knowledge of other parts of the city can fill in the blanks in the comments.
CD-10 (Southwestern L.A., Koreatown) Council President Herb Wesson is running for election here in a historically Black district that is now very diverse. This was Tom Bradley's district before he was Mayor (though the lines have changed since the 1960s). There are several challengers but I would expect that Wesson will prevail.
CD-12 (Northwest SFV) Incumbent Mitch Englander is sure to be re-elected to a second term since there is nobody else on the ballot. A write-in challenger is disability rights activist Daniel Garcia. The best line of his candidate statement was "An accesible city is a friendly city". He advocated for the city to repair sidewalks so people on wheels can get around.
CD-14 (Eastside of L.A.) This race has the incumbent Jose Huizar challenged by former Supervisor Gloria Molina. There are a few other Some Dudes but if there is a runoff it will be between Molina and Huizar. Not too surprisingly the incumbent has a lead in the race for campaign money so he might be favored to win. I would vote for Gloria Molina here. Huizar has had problems including a harassment scandal with a former staffer that caused the city to have to pay out a settlement. Also we need more women on the city council. Molina was in the CA Legislature before the Board of Supes so she has plenty of experience. This might be the most interesting race tonight since the Fourth is just setting up a runoff.
LAUSD Board of Education:
LAUSD-1 Recently elected incumbent George McKenna is unopposed.
LAUSD-3 (parts of the SFV) Tamar Galatzan is the incumbent. A tax client of mine who is a teacher suggested "Anybody but Tamar". I voted for Ankur Patel who was endorsed by the SoCal Americans for Democratic Action. The SCADA is sort of the left edge of practical politics around here. That was good enough for me. I don't really follow LAUSD politics closely. Tamar seems like she would rather have a different job; midway through her first term on the board she ran unsuccessfully for City Council. She works for the City Attorney and would probably wish she were the City Atty. She is aligned with the education "reformers"...
LAUSD-5 (Hollywood etc) Bennett Kayser, the incumbent has support from teachers. I know there are a few challengers but I don't know much about the race.
LAUSD-7 (San Pedro, South L.A.?) Richard Vladovic is the incumbent here. He is one of the "reformers". There are some challengers including one named Euna Anderson (iirc) that has a Kossack as her campaign manager.
LACCD: The Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees runs the nine campuses of the LACCD. They are elected districtwide; each one has to try to communicate with as many as 2 million possible voters in the entire district. These low-key races are the closest thing to entry level elective offices in L.A. Former LACCD Trustees now serve in other CA offices including Assemblymember and Governor of California. Yes, Jerry Brown's first election was for the LACCD Board (back in 1969, before I could vote) This is such a low information election that many people rely on slate cards or else the sound of names and occupations listed.
Office #1 I voted for Andra Hoffman, a Community College Professor who is a friend of a friend of mine (who teaches at Pierce College in Woodland Hills). She recently ran in an Assembly special election and was one of the more progressive candidates. She is Some Dude, but had some money for ads and slate cards. Most of the Democratic endorsements were for Francesca Vega, a College Policy Director. Vega will probably win. By the way, I should mention that LACCD elections now have a new rule where they are eliminating runoffs. Whoever comes in first place in the primary gets elected even with well under 50%.
Office #3 Sydney Kamlager, an Education Policy Advisor, has the Democratic and union endorsements. Joe Essavi is a rightwinger. Sam Kbushyan is Some Armenian Dude who ran surprisingly well for CD-13 a couple of years ago. Glenn Bailey is some environmentalist dude who is a Neighborhood Council Boardmember. (Occupations are from their ballot designations.)
Office #5 has the only incumbent running for re-election, Scott Svonkin. His only opponent is Steve Schulte, an Environmental Science Instructor. Svonkin has the money and endorsements. If he loses it would be a big surprise.
Office #7 Mike Fong, an Educator/Job Trainer, has the Democratic and union endorsements. Joyce Burrelle Garcia is a conservative. I don't know anything about John C. Burke except that he is Community College Faculty.
The last things on the ballot are the aforementioned charter amendments to change the election cycles. Yes on 1 and Yes on 2.
Thanks for reading and for voting!
Your politics and tax geek pal, Zack from the SFV