Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Local Neighborhoods Host CD13 Candidate Discussions

Incumbent City Council District 13 representative Mitch O’Farrell and challenger Hugo Soto-Martinez spoke in separate community meetings organized via Zoom by the Windsor Square, Larchmont Village, St. Andrews Square, and Ridgewood-Wilton neighborhoods last Wednesday and Thursday nights.


On Wednesday, October 19 and Thursday, October 20, the Windsor Square Association, Larchmont Village Neighborhood Association, Larchmont Boulevard Association, St. Andrews Square Neighborhood Association and Ridgewood Wilton Neighborhood Association hosted Zoom-based conversations with each of the two candidates running to represent City Council District 13 for the next four years.  Incumbent Mitch O’Farrell chatted with the groups via Zoom on Wednesday evening, and challenger Soto-Martinez visited on Thursday.

This discussion, coming late in the campaign season, covered some familiar ground (including the all-pervasive issues of homelessness, housing, and public safety), but also contained questions specifically tailored to the Greater Wilshire area. And the candidates also appeared to tailor their responses to the area, too, being careful to mention things like Larchmont Blvd., neighborhood safety, preservation of historic and single-family neighborhoods, and other topics of particular interest to local homeowners.


Third-Party Introductions


To kick off each event, the candidates were invited to bring along someone who could provide a personal introduction to the assembled neighbors.

O’Farrell brought newly-elected City Council President Paul Krekorian, who said O’Farrell is someone who sets the kind of good example on the Council that Krekorian will be looking to in his efforts to rebuild trust in the Council in the wake of the recent racist recording scandal.  Krekorian said that O’Farrell, who served as acting Council president during the week between the leak and Krekorian’s subsequent election to the council presidency, was “thrust into the spotlight and…took on the yolk and burden of leading the Council through chaotic times.” Krekorian said O’Farrell is “a man of great integrity and caring,” who has always handled himself with grace, courage and accountability during his two terms in office, and who has also focused especially well on providing services to his district.


Wednesday night’s candidate discussion panel, with moderator Jane Usher, WSA board members Jason Greenman and Larry Guzin, along with City Council President Paul Krekorian, and CD 13 incumbent/candidate Mitch O’Farrell


Meanwhile, Soto-Martinez brought in Kate Pynoos, who was one of several other candidates running against Soto-Martinez for the CD 13 seat in this year’s primary election.  Pynoos, who is now supporting Soto-Martinez, said she got to know him during the campaign and they became good friends.  She said Soto-Martinez is a “deeply good man” with “real integrity,” as well as a respected labor leader who is “that type of person who would forge a friendship with someone running against him.”  She said Soto-Martinez is not an “ideologue,” as his opponent has claimed, genuinely wants to hear the concerns of all community members, and is uniquely qualified to bring both poor and wealthy constituents to the table to forge solutions to the city’s complex problems.  She said this moment in time provides an incredible opportunity for “big change,” and that Soto-Martinez is committed to creating both big and lasting change for the city.


Thursday night’s panel, including Guzin, Usher and Greenman, with former city council candidate Kate Pynoos and current candidate Hugo Soto-Martinez.




[Editor’s note:  Because the two candidates spoke on different nights (one on Wednesday and one on Thursday), and there were no time requirements or restrictions for each candidate’s introduction, the amount of time each candidate devoted to his introduction – and to the various questions that followed – varied, sometimes significantly.]


After the third-party introductions, Soto-Martinez introduced himself by saying said that he door-knocked almost every home south of Melrose Ave. during the campaign so far and, for him, the most important thing he’s learned so far is how much he has learned about leadership, and – especially – the importance of putting yourself in other people’s shoes.

In his own session, O’Farrell introduced himself by saying his work has always centered on bringing to others the opportunities he himself has enjoyed.  He said he has also focused on support for small businesses, and safe paths to schools. “I don’t shy away from [Ordinance] 41.18,” he said, referencing the controversial measure that allows the removal of encampments within a certain distance of schools and other sensitive sites if offers of shelter are made to the residents. He said other issues he’s worked hard on include creating thriving, walkable communities, the Hollywood Boulevard Master Plan, and reducing homelessness (which he said is now down 25% across the 13th District, and 50% in Hollywood). He also reported that 32 people from an encampment near Larchmont Charter school were housed in March, as well as another large group from a Hollywood-area pocket park.

O’Farrell said that, in addition, he’s been helping the city reach its goals for renewable energy use (he chairs the Council Committee working on this), and City Charter reform.  O’Farrell said this last item has become especially important in the wake of the recent scandal, which revolved around a conversation during the last redistricting effort, in which the three councilmembers involved discussed ways to consolidate their power by redrawing district lines.  O’Farrell said having more districts would create smaller, more manageable districts, and will make it easier to hold each council member accountable.  He also said, however, that such reforms will need to include community input, and that neighbors will be included in the discussions.


Moderator Questions


An identical set of six questions was submitted to each candidate by the event organizers in advance of the discussions, which the candidates were allowed to run through at their own speeds, taking as much or little time as they wanted to address each issue.


What are your top three priorities for the City Council?

Both candidates provided clear, brief, and nearly identical answers to this question, saying their top three issues are homelessness, housing, and public safety.

Since O’Farrell talked at length about at least two of these points in his self-introduction, he did not elaborate further here, and let his brief answer stand.

Soto-Martinez, however, who did not address these topics in his introduction, elaborated here, saying we can’t ignore that developers currently “have a stronghold” on the city, and that they influence many key decisions in city government.  He also said we need more housing that’s truly affordable.  The 8-9% of units that are affordable that we’re building now is not enough, he said, and it should be possible to guarantee that 20-30% of new units fall into the affordable category. The fact that we’re not doing this, he said, means we’re “leaving money on the table.”

Regarding homelessness, Soto-Martinez said we currently have housing for only 40% of our population, so moving people from one side of the street to the other doesn’t help.  He agreed, however, that we can’t continue to allow people to live on the street, and we will sometimes need “tough love” solutions.  But he said we can’t expect to simply build our way out of the housing crisis, since new construction is too slow and too costly, so we need to look at other available options, such as re-using existing buildings, such as St. Vincent Hospital, the old Sears complex in Boyle Heights, the Standard Hotel downtown, and the Sportsman’s Lodge motel in Studio City.

Finally, on public safety, Soto-Martinez noted that many people in the Greater Wilshire area subscribe to private security firms because our current public safety system has many shortcomings and LAPD takes too long to respond when called.  To help change things, he said we should create a new response system for non-violent situations, something that has been shown to reduce response times in other cities to as little as 14 minutes and which has also connected the people involved to the services they really need in other places (such as Orange County), that have already created such programs.  (Soto-Martinez did acknowledge that there are several similar pilot programs running in various parts of the Los Angeles area, such as the CIRCLE program O’Farrell has instituted in Hollywood, but he said the current pilots are too limited and not as effective as the more robust programs in other places.)


What changes should we in Greater Wilshire expect you to champion for the City?

Soto-Martinez said that in the wake of the current city council racism scandal, routing out corruption is more important than ever.  He said we need to get rid of the kinds of backroom conversations that were revealed in the recently leaked recordings. (He also pointed out that O’Farrell was mentioned in those conversations as someone the group of councilmembers being recorded wanted to protect).

Soto-Martinez also said developers currently have too much power in the city, and that we need to make sure land use decisions are rooted in our communities, not the city council.  Finally, he said he’d like to see the city take a more forward-looking vision, and that he believes the city is ready to do that.

O’Farrell said that during his time in office, CD 13 has taken a leading role in housing the homeless, using outreach practitioners with lived experience to interact with people on the street…and that, as a result, the district now offers more kinds of housing solutions than ever before.

Finally, regarding safety, O’Farrell said he has allocated funding in the “six figures” to address human trafficking issues on Western Avenue, that he supports our LAPD officers and Senior Lead Officers, would like to expand community policing efforts, and supports unarmed responses to law enforcement calls when appropriate.


What changes should we expect you to champion for Greater Wilshire?

O’Farrell said he will definitely focus on historic preservation in the area.  “These neighborhoods are among the best in the city,” he said.  He also reported that speed tables, funded by his office, are coming to increase traffic and pedestrian safety on Sixth Street, which will make the neighborhood more walkable.  And he said he would continue to focus heavily on constituent services and community interaction, including more “Councilmember on Your Corner” community events, of which there have been 79 so far.  “I’m here to delve into what Greater Wilshire wants to see for its future,” he said.

Soto-Martinez, too, said, “I’m here to listen,” and listed improved pedestrian infrastructure, the installation of speed humps, and sidewalk repairs as things he’s heard everyone in this area say they want.  He also spoke about the need to protect small businesses (so we won’t see so many empty storefronts on Larchmont Blvd.), and to protect our historic landmarks.


What land use changes will you seek in Greater Wilshire?

Soto-Martinez said we need to protect our Historic Preservation Overlay Zones, but that we also have to recognize that while the city was originally zoned to house 10 million people, it was down-zoned twice to provide housing for only 4 million people, despite constant population growth…which is what has led to our current housing crisis.

He said the role now for all of our communities is to help increase density wherever possible, which can include, in the Greater Wilshire, gentle density solutions such as ADUs, suggestions included in the Livable Communities Initiative, and removing minimum parking requirements for new developments.  He said he wants the community to take the lead, however, in figuring out which solutions are best in which areas, and that he’s here to represent people, not developers.  “The conversations are going to be tough,” he said, “I get it.”  But he also said he has faith that solutions can be found.

O’Farrell said he has no plans to seek specific land use changes in the Greater Wilshire area, but that he would definitely support efforts under discussion before the COVID-19 pandemic to create an Historic Preservation Overlay Zone for the Larchmont Village area.  That effort, he said, will be more difficult now that SB-9 has passed at the state level, but “count me on board” if neighbors still want to pursue it.


What role will you ask us in Greater Wilshire to play in helping you achieve your priorities?

“Your priorities are my priorities,” said O’Farrell.

Soto-Martinez said he’s a big believer in “co-governing,” and that he remembers the first time a union representative came to his workplace and asked the workers what their priorities were for themselves, which was an eye-opening experience.  He said the discussions in that situation were often tense, but everyone worked through them and the agreement that emerged in the end was stronger than what people had before.  So “this is what I’ve done for the last 16  years,” Soto-Martinez said – bring people together to bond and create something mutually beneficial to all involved.  In addition, he said, he wants every member of the community to feel connected to his office – “You are part of it, an extension of it” – and not just think of it as a place to call when there’s a problem.


What would you like to say to us regarding the leaked City Council audiotape and its aftermath?

Soto-Martinez said he was “deeply hurt” by the leaked recordings, especially because they involved people he has worked with, campaigned for, and considered good friends.  But now, he said, he realizes that “those folks that were in that room do not represent my community” and “I feel betrayed.”  Soto-Martinez said he has always known that some people lead from a place of love and others from greed, and this incident only made that distinction more stark.  At the same time, however, Soto-Martinez said it’s good that the situation is out in the open now, and that trying to restore trust in our officials can create a better world.  So, in the end, he said, “The tapes have really given me a lot of hope for the city.”

O’Farrell said he has been busy with his duties as acting City Council president for the last week, in the wake of the scandal, but now that a new president has been elected, he’s looking forward to getting back to focusing on issues in the 13th District.  “I’m vested here,” he said, asserting that it’s important to stand with communities, like Greater Wilshire, that have strong leaders and activists.  He said he has always taken an action-oriented approach, rather than an ideological approach, to governing, and that he believes in public service over politics or ideology.


Additional Questions


After the main questions, discussion moderator Jane Usher invited fellow Windsor Square board members Larry Guzin and Jason Greenman to present questions that were submitted by local residents.  Some of the questions were used for both candidates, while others were asked of just one candidate or the other.


Questions Asked of Both Candidates


Our neighborhoods and streets are unsafe. Aside from safety issues connected to homelessness, how will you increase safety in our local neighborhoods?

O’Farrell noted that he was among the councilmembers who voted to increase the number of LAPD officers to meet current shortages caused by attrition, and that the city will be close to that goal by the end of the year, with more new candidates at the police academy and more new hires.  He said he definitely does not want to abolish the police, as he claims his opponent advocates, but that we definitely can be more innovative in our policing as well, with new efforts such as the Office of Unarmed Response the City Council recently voted to explore.  “We’ve got to have a livable city,” he said, and we definitely don’t want to “boomerang” back to the high crime days of the 1980s and ’90s.

Soto-Martinez, who studied political science and criminology in college, returned to the fact that as many as 92% of calls to the police are for non-violent situations, which take the police away from the things they should be doing, like dealing with truly urgent and violent situations, and solving crimes.  So he again advocated for bifurcating law enforcement responsibilities and creating a system of unarmed responses for non-violent situations.


We want people housed immediately.  What are the fastest housing options, even if temporary, and how can they be implemented?

Soto-Martinez agreed that people are being housed too slowly, and more solutions are needed as soon as possible.  He advocated for the adaptive re-use of available buildings, which is cheaper and faster than building entirely from scratch. He also suggested looking at other kinds of potential solutions, such as using empty parking structures for temporary housing…and making greater use of eminent domain to acquire appropriate properties, something he said the City Council has the authority to do if the mayor declares a housing emergency.  “We have to think about how bold we can be,” he said, because people die every day living on the street.

O’Farrell agreed that housing people as fast as possible is definitely the solution, but also noted that many fairly rapid solutions – such as tiny home villages (some actually designed by formerly homeless individuals), and the acquisition of three existing properties for Project Homekey – are already being used in CD 13, with more on the way.  He said that when such solutions are available, it’s possible to house people – such as those who were living near Larchmont Charter School – quickly and without having to enforce Ordinance 41.18.


Our Neighborhood Council system is overburdened with red tape, and the Councils’ advice is often ignored by city officials.  How will you support our Neighborhood Councils?

O’Farrell, himself a former Neighborhood Council member, said his office works closely with the district’s NCs, and that he’s proud that the Glassell Park NC, in his own neighborhood, was the third formed in the city.  And he said he will continue to work with our NCs because they and our smaller neighborhood associations are the groups best equipped to inform city councilmembers on issues that affect those neighborhoods.

Like O’Farrell, Soto-Martinez said he, too, spent several years serving on a Neighborhood Council, and agrees that they are often ignored by other elected officials (he said the two councilmembers in his NC area at the time – David Ryu and O’Farrell – both ignored his group, with Ryu visiting a meeting only once, and O’Farrell not at all).  He said Neighborhood Council members are volunteers who care deeply about their communities, that the NCs’ budgets should be increased, and that they should have more discretion over the issues in their neighborhoods.


The holy grail of density too often threatens our single-family neighborhoods. How will you protect these neighborhoods?

O’Farrell said our single family neighborhoods do not need to be under attack, because there is still a lot of developable and under-developed land (including many mostly-dead commercial strips) in the city, which provide the opportunity to grow and densify in a way that does not harm single family neighborhoods.  So protecting R1 neighborhoods does not prevent he city from meeting its housing goals, he said. “Protecting R1 neighborhoods is not at the expense of anything.”

Soto-Martinez said that SB9, which allows even traditionally single-family neighborhoods to be redeveloped with up to four units (and perhaps additional accessory dwelling units) on a single property, “stirred up a hornet’s nest” with single family homeowners…but it was necessary for the state to step in because cities weren’t doing their job when it came to providing new housing.  At the same time, however, he said a lot of discretion for implementing SB9 lies in the hands of the city council…and the goal for the city is to create livable communities with gentle density, which helps protect the single family housing we still desire.


City Hall finds endless avenues for corruption, and trust in our city officials is gone.  How will you fix this and restore government serving the governed?

O’Farrell, who reiterated that he started his career as a community volunteer, said the recent city council scandal saddens him, but that in the last eight days he responded quickly by removing two of the participants from their committee assignments, and calling for City Charter reform to increase the size of the City Council.  And he also voted to remove Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas last year after he was indicted on 21 federal counts of corruption.  He said all current councilmembers have definitely been tainted by the scandal, but it’s not fair to paint all of them with the same brush and simply replace them with others who don’t know their neighborhoods as well, or who have specific ideological agendas. O’Farrell said he was not involved in the scandal, and “there’s a reason I have never been invited to any of these secret meetings,” because others know he’s not the kind of person who will participate.  “They know it’s not me.”

Soto-Martinez said one thing that still needs to be addressed is campaign financing — that the city has made some changes in the ways developers can donate to political campaigns, but there are still ways around those for families and friends, so more changes still need to be made.  Also, he said, the budget of the city’s ethics department is currently controlled by the City Council, when it should be more independently created.  And finally, he said, he has learned through this campaign just how much money really is involved in election campaigns, to the point that it’s obvious ordinary people can’t afford to run for office.  So we need publicly funded elections, he said…and, as mentioned before, to expand the City Council to at least 31 members, to create smaller districts and more transparency.


At two recent meetings of the City Planning Commission, residents of single-family neighborhoods were scolded by commissioners as being overly privileged and told that it’s “our turn to take the pain.” Do you think those were appropriate comments for commissioners to make, and should they be reprimanded?

Soto-Martinez said the Planning Commissioners’ remarks were “absolutely uncalled for,” and those who made them should definitely be reprimanded.  He said the commissioners are not there to belittle people, but the fact that they did so doesn’t surprise him because they too often don’t listen or feel accountable to the public.  Instead, he said, the commissioners too often vote to benefit developers…and their remarks in this case show their “complete bias” to them.

O’Farrell, too, said the commissioners’ remarks were definitely not acceptable, as well as insulting and needlessly ideological. “When we judge people,” he said, “We beckon our lower self, and we should beckon our higher self.”  He said the comments were very inappropriate and “classist,” feeding into the motto of the Democratic Socialists of America (which has endorsed Soto-Martinez) that “there is no war but class war.”  O’Farrell said we cannot govern that way, because such techniques are like “name-calling on a children’s playground,” which can be turned too easily against anyone who disagrees with you on any topic.


What is your position on ordinance 41.18?

Soto-Martinez said he’s not in favor of the ordinance, and will not enforce it.  He said the ordinance, which allows the city to remove people from certain locations if they’ve been offered some sort of shelter, is “misguided” and only gives the appearance of doing something, when usually it just means people are being moved from one place to another. He said “housing first” is the only solution that will help the current situation.

O’Farrell said the city can’t require individuals to accept offers of housing, but Ordinance 41.18 does make it legal to relocate those who have camped in sensitive areas.  He said the ordinance is compliant with the “Boise decision,” which requires that an offer of shelter be made before moving anyone.  He said there is also a newer court case that allows enforcement of such an ordinance when council districts show that they have the resources to house 60% of their population, and he said CD 13 will hit that benchmark soon.


Asked Only to O’Farrell


What is your reaction to the KnockLA story about the Echo Park encampment clearance? (The story was originally circulated in March, before the primary election, and again last week.)

O’Farrell called the KnockLA story “just another hit on me,” saying it’s the only issue his opponent has to use against him.  He said the UCLA report mentioned in the story was an editorial, not a peer-reviewed study.  He also said, as he has throughout the campaign, that LAPD officers at the Echo Park cleanup interacted only with protestors, not encampment residents, and the only people who interacted with the residents, to help them onto shuttles to housing, were CD13 and other outreach workers.  He said “outside agitators” sent out a call to action to fight what they called a “sweep” of the encampment, but it was a legitimate effort to move the residents into housing, not just clearing them out of the park to another location on the street.


How will you enact the Green New Deal in CD 13?

O’Farrell, who said the city is already rolling out more electric car chargers, and the goal is to place 100,000 of them by 2030.  He said he would like to see chargers in every city parking lot, along with green corridors and greenbelts in many areas, filled with native plants that help to fight climage change.  He also noted that large yards, like many homes have in the Greater Wilshire area, provide a great opportunity to bring back native plants…while dedicated bus lanes are also coming on Alvarado Street and Highland Ave. to help improve transit in those areas.


Finally, Buzz Co-Publisher Patty Lombard thanked O’Farrell for his contributions to the new bistro-style lighting that will be installed soon on Larchmont Blvd., and O’Farrell responded that he was happy to help, loves Larchmont (a “high-value” street), and “once I get free time again someday, you’ll see me there a lot.”


Asked Only to Soto-Martinez


How will you balance the needs of the community and the needs of its unhoused members…and do you stand by your campaign ad that was harshly critical of your opponent for his handling of the encampment clearance at Echo Park Lake?

Responding to O’Farrell’s comments on this topic, Soto-Martinez noted that the UCLA report was just a report, which isn’t the kind of research study that calls for peer review.  But he also contended that O’Farrell couldn’t find a local homeless services provider to help clear the Echo Park camp, so he brought in an outside group from San Francisco, which was part of the problem with the effort.  He said the police presence only made things worse, and there was no reason to bring in 400 armed officers to deal with a handful of protestors and journalists (more of whom were arrested in that one incident, he claimed, than in the entire rest of the year across the rest of the country).  He said the park was definitely at the point where it needed attention, but that it grew to that state under O’Farrell’s watch, which never should have happened.  Instead of handling the situation as O’Farrell did, Soto-Martinez said O’Farrell should have looked to similar situations that have been used with greater success elsewhere in the city, such as the “Encampment to Home” model recently used to clear up a large encampment in Venice.  Soto-Martinez said 80% of people relocated in that effort are still housed…unlike the Echo Park residents, whom Soto-Martinez said now include more dead than housed individuals.  Finally, Soto-Martinez also defended a hard-hitting campaign ad berating O’Farrell’s handling of the Echo Park cleanup, published by KnockLA, saying “the ad is direct but does speak the truth.”


Your union (Unite Here Local 11) has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to your campaign.  How is that not a violation of campaign finance laws?

Soto-Martinez said the union’s board decided to make the independent expenditure to his campaign, but while he’s not fond of current campaign finance rules that allow such contributions, it is legal and he’s proud that the union supported his bid for office.  He also pointed out that other organizations, such as the Apartment Owners’ Association and other real estate companies, have made similar donations to his opponent.  But all of this, he said, highlights the need for campaign finance reform, public election funding, and overturning federal-level court rulings like “Citizen’s United.”


The City Council is considering a new law (CF 22-0158, which the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council has opposed) to allow faith-based organizations to purchase property in single-family neighborhoods to use as homeless shelters during a declared housing emergency.  What is your position on this proposal?

Soto-Martinez said he’s not familiar with this proposal and would look into it and get back to the group with a response.


You’ve said you’re an “abolitionist” when it comes to the police, and that you won’t hire any more police officers.  Won’t this refusal to replace officers who leave the force result in the eventual abolition of the LAPD?

Soto-Martinez said he does consider himself an abolitionist, but that means abolishing a lot more than just the police.  He also noted that the city has the budget to employ 9,700 police officers, but is currently about 400 short of that number…and the money that would fund the salaries of those 400 officers is sitting unused in the city budget.  So he said he would advocate using the unused funds to create the kinds of unarmed response system he favors, instead of hiring more police officers.


Do you worry that using SB9 will result in the over-development of single family neighborhoods rather than putting more density on our commercial corridors?

Soto-Martinez says he’s already seen some evidence of this in the Silverlake hills, and other similar areas, where it’s a problem because the streets are very narrow and the infrastructure just won’t support increased density.  He said, however, that such development will be more difficult in many of our Greater Wilshire neighborhoods, because the HPOZs here provide an additional layer of protection.  He said that we can implement density suggestions from the Livable Communities Initiative in commercial areas adjacent to our low-density neighborhoods, but the specifics should be worked out in conversations with those communities.


Are you in favor of the Olympics coming to Los Angeles in 2028?

Soto-Martinez said he’s not in favor of the city’s plan to host the 2028 Olympics, for two reasons.  First, he said, the Olympics always go over budget, and then the host city (and its taxpayers) are left to pay for the overages.  He said he would have supported the effort if the city council had passed an ordinance saying the city would not have to make up any budget deficits, but it did not do so, so we may be left “with a billion-dollar hole in our pocket.”

Also, said Soto-Martinez, the event will allow the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to increase their presence and activity in the city, which is home to more than a million immigrants.  And since we don’t yet know who will be president in 2028, that could be a dangerous thing for many Angelenos.

And finally, said Soto-Martinez, he also objects to the fact that the contract for the Olympics was worked out by the city council behind closed doors…which we need to say doesn’t work for the city.


Can you elaborate on your denial to Los Angeles Magazine that you were not involved in the recently leaked recordings made at the LA Federation of Labor?

Soto-Martinez said he is currently angry with Jason McGahan, who wrote the recent story in Los Angeles Magazine suggesting that Soto-Martinez could be the person behind the recently-leaked recordings.  Soto-Martinez said it was “absolutely not me,” and that he begged McGahan not to write the story, but McGahan did so anyway.  Soto-Martinez said he knew nothing about the issue until he was tagged in a social media post when the leaked recordings were first posted.  “I don’t want that on me,” he said…noting that the truth about the tape’s origins will come out eventually, and people will know then that he wasn’t involved.


Closing Remarks


Soto-Martinez thanked the organizers of the event, saying the individual-speaker format “allowed me to unwind and just be myself.”   He said that he accepts all such discussion invitations (except for one recent forum, where he wasn’t happy with the people running the event), and wants to be as available to everyone as possible.  He invited people with further questions to submit them, and said he would be happy to set up times for further chats.

Finally, O’Farrell took the opportunity to return to the topic of Echo Park Lake, where his staff were able to offer housing to about 200 people.  And since the park was repaired and re-opened after that, he said, it’s once again thriving and a safe place for community members (including some who are unhoused) to enjoy.  “The park has been returned to the people,” he said.  He also said his goal now is to disrupt the normalization of people living on the streets, but that while the situations we face are difficult, “these times help to pave the way to a better future.  They always do.”  O’Farrell said that getting through such times sometimes requires taking tough positions, but that he strives to be well informed, and promises to always listen to the community.


Full recordings of the two candidate discussions are available at

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Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - with deep roots in both the Sycamore Square and West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill neighborhoods. She spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and has been writing for the Buzz since 2015.

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