As you have no doubt noticed, tomorrow is election day, and we’re hearing that record numbers of ballots have already been cast. We are excited to see that so many people are participating in the November election, largely driven by the presidential race. When the City Council voted to align local races with the presidential race this year, its primary motivation was to increase voter turnout…and it certainly looks like that is happening.
However, one consequence of the alignment is that local races may also be somewhat drowned out by the din of the national races. So we thought it would be worth taking a moment to share with you why we are making a rare endorsement in the election for City Council District 4 Representative.
While our presidential race involves two almost polar opposites, this smaller race is about local politics and local solutions to local problems. Both candidates – incumbent David Ryu and challenger Nithya Raman – are both very progressive by national political standards, and both are relatively young people of color. So the choice between the two candidates is not stark, and their differences may not be immediately obvious to people who haven’t been following the local nuances of this race.
On closer inspection of the issues, however, as well as the record of the incumbent, and the rhetoric of the challenger and her followers, we do feel there are valid differences between the two candidates, particularly in the area of experience, which cannot be discounted during these turbulent times.
Perhaps the biggest issue of the campaign has been homelessness, and Raman has spotlighted this critical issue in her campaign. But Ryu, too, has been working hard on housing issues during the five years of his inaugural term in office, and he has pushed for housing our unhoused neighbors in a variety of ways. Is his record perfect? No. But he has also not made any major missteps.
Also, while homelessness is a huge issue facing the city, it is not by any means the only such issue. While Ryu was as much a novice regarding City Hall in his first campaign as Raman is this year, he worked hard during his first term and seemed to learn the ins and outs of city government quickly – even winning support for some of his ethics reforms, which were decidedly unpopular with some city hall veterans when he first took office.
We also think Ryu has done a good job listening to constituents’ concerns about preserving their low-density neighborhoods while addressing our wider housing issues over the last five years, and we take seriously the support he’s won this year from local housing advocates who have endorsed his candidacy.
During his first term, Ryu has also taken care to address issues like street trees, support for local businesses, traffic calming measures in our neighborhoods, and historic preservation of our local architectural history, among others. And he is generally able to discuss each issue with a genuine understanding of the nuances involved, something we have not seen Raman do as comprehensively.
So while both Ryu and Raman are young, energetic and progressive, Ryu also has the benefit of five years’ experience in office, and brings that additional maturity with him in this year’s campaign. With so many difficult issues facing our city at the moment, we cannot discount the value of such experience, and – as we said in our primary endorsement in March – we feel that David Ryu deserves re-election.
Nithya worked at City Hall years before running for elected office–this is a weak argument when she’s much stronger on the issues than Ryu, and has released much more detailed and thoughtful policy proposals.
Nithya was an administrative trainee in the office of the CAO (city adminstrative officer) for 6 months, where she helped write one report.