Since the Buzz was founded in 2011, we have dedicated our efforts to providing the best local news coverage we can. We interact with local neighbors and their grass roots organizations every day, and we learn a lot about their relationships, the issues involved, and how the issues are or are not resolved. So we have decided to make our first-ever political endorsement, in the current campaign for City Council District 4 representative.
We feel David Ryu is the strongest candidate for City Council this year.
A relative newcomer five years ago (his initial four-year term was extended when election dates were re-aligned a few years ago), Ryu has proven quite responsive to our local neighborhoods during his first term in office. He has also done a good job of focusing on the major issues from his last campaign, including transparency, campaign finance reform, and the tangled web of threads – including housing, affordability, mental health and addiction – that contribute to the homeless crisis. He has introduced motions on each of these topics, as well as other high-community-interest issues including street repairs, tree maintenance, and education (LAUSD student savings acounts).
As he readily admits, not all of Ryu’s attempts have been successful, and many efforts took a lot more work than he expected. (And, yes, we do hear from frustrated neighbors – and understand their frustration – when that happens.) But as Ryu also acknowledges, a large part of his first term has been learning the ins, outs and realities of city government, and how to get things done within that rather Byzantine framework. This is necessary knowledge for an effective representative – especially at this very critical time in the city’s history – and we have seen evidence of Ryu’s considerable growth, broadening perspectives, and increased maturity in his office over the last four years. We would like to see him have the chance to continue that growth, and to continue to address the issues he has already begun to tackle, over the next four years.
That said, we have also appreciated the energy that Ryu’s two major competitors, Sarah Kate Levy and Nithya Raman, have brought to the race, and we would like to see them continue to grow their experience and community involvement.
Sarah Kate Levy, whose run for office is based on her well-founded concern for affordability issues in Los Angeles, advocates for significant expansion of the city’s safe parking and safe camping locations, to help fight the city’s increasingly out-of-control homeless issue. She is correct in saying that we can’t get people off the streets until we have safe places for them to go right now, in significant numbers, and where they can receive intake services and connections to the resources they will need to find more permanent shelter. Also, while we did not agree with her support of the most recent version of the statewide SB50 housing bill, Levy notably called out current building incentive programs for not requiring an even larger share of units to be reserved for low and moderate income tenants, which is something we adamantly support (as do the two other candidates).
Nithya Raman holds a master’s degree in city planning, which would be a helpful resource on the city council (or other parts of city government, should she ever set her sights on a different office). She also advocates for expansion of safe parking locations, and for a much more relationship-based approach to individuals needing housing, especially through more neighborhood-based service providers, instead of the more oppositional tactics the city now uses too frequently, often confronting people as the few belongings they do have are being swept away by city officials. We also agree with her stance that SB 50 was too “blunt” a tool for addressing our dire housing issues, that older, more affordable units should be protected when possible (especially not lost to short-term-rental conversions), and that the best way to ensure progress in the right direction in housing issues is to get developer and other private-interest money out of city elections. And Raman correctly notes that public funding of elections would also help remove financial pressure from lobbyists who aim to defeat critical environmental measures at both the local and state levels.
(For more information on both Ryu and his challengers, including write-in candidates Susan Collins and Eric Christie, see our coverage of the candidate forum held on February 16 at John Marshall High School.)
In the end, however, most of the positions promoted by Levy and Raman are also supported by David Ryu, and because of his broader and deeper experience this time around, the scale tips to his favor.
The Larchmont Buzz endorses David Ryu for City Council District 4.
[Editors’ note: the campaign ads for David Ryu, currently running in the Buzz and its daily subscriber e-mail, are paid political placements. The Buzz approached each of the current CD4 candidates about advertising opportunities, offering the same placements and prices to each of them, well before our endorsement was decided or written.]