Does Gascon want to move forward? Will measuring HLA succeed? A quick look at the best LA County races

(Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times)

Will Gascn move forward? Will measuring HLA succeed? A quick look at the best LA County races

Elections 2024, LA Politics

James Rainey

March 5, 2024

A referendum on a more rehabilitative, less punitive policy


Approaches to criminal justice received their final test Tuesday in Los Angeles County, as progressive Dist. Atty. George Gascn faced a large field of opponents who promised either more moderate reforms or a return to stricter law enforcement.

The eleven challengers who would become DA created the hottest race in the province, with the large field and significant dissatisfaction with Gascn almost certainly putting someone off


winning a majority, setting up an expected November runoff between the top two finishers.

Tuesday’s elections also put nearly half of the seats on the Los Angeles City Council and a majority of the five-member County Board of Supervisors before voters, along with the question of who will replace two venerable LA school board members and a


ballot measure intended to substantially reshape traffic patterns in the city of Los Angeles.

Citizen-sponsored Measure HLA would bring road projects that have been on the drawing board for years to reality and add more than 600 miles of bike lanes and 200 miles of bus lanes around the city.

Among the many projects identified by the measure are protected bike lanes on Sunset and Venice boulevards, and a bus lane connecting Whittier Boulevard in Boyle Heights to 6th Street downtown and then to Wilshire Boulevard west of the 110 Freeway. Approval of HLA would effectively advance the city’s ambitious mobility plan, which calls for special improvements every time the city resurfaces a street of five miles or more. While some of the plans would limit vehicle traffic, they also identify approximately 80 miles of roads where efficient vehicle traffic would be the priority.

HLA backers say it will promote multiple modes of transportation and make streets safer by letting cars move more slowly. Opponents argue that the measure will create unintended danger by slowing down emergency vehicles. The cost of implementing the proposal has also created a sharp divide, with the city’s top budget official saying it will come with a price tag of at least $3.1 billion, while advocates say it will cost much less.

Perhaps the most watched of Los Angeles’ seven city council races

has been

the re-election bid of Nithya Raman, a progressive whose election four years ago helped fuel an increased interest at City Hall in tenants’ rights and crime-fighting tactics that don’t rely solely on police.

Raman has had to focus on more than just politics during her first term. She fought off a recall effort that never reached a vote and now faces a bid for a second term in a district whose boundaries have been significantly redrawn in a way that has reduced the number of generally liberal-leaning tenants. Cut off from the 4th district: areas with high renters

like like

La Brea Park. Added: single-family homes

like like

Encino, and parts of Studio City and Reseda.

In this year’s most expensive council race, City Deputy Atty. Ethan Weaver has positioned himself as a moderate alternative.

Raman has drawn a clear distinction from Weaver and some of her current colleagues by opposing a city law banning homeless encampments near schools. The council member also voted against a pay raise package for the LAPD. Weaver supports the police department increases, along with the law limiting the location of homeless encampments.

The councilman, who lives in Silver Lake, had the honor in 2020 of becoming the first member of the Democratic Socialists of America to unseat an incumbent at City Hall. The leftward tilt at City Hall proved to be much more than an anomaly two years later, when three other candidates won with substantial help from DSA volunteers, now-incumbent council members Hugo Soto-Martnez and Eunisses Hernandez, and City Comptroller Kenneth Mejia.

Weaver has tried to portray the DSA as too radical for the district. Raman has countered that she is a pragmatic progressive. Her vote for Mayor Karen Bass’ budget, which called for hiring 1,000 police officers, did not go over well with some on the left.

In another high-profile LA city contest, Councilman Kevin de Len is put before voters for the first time since a secret recording caught him, two other council members and a union leader engaged in an inflammatory and racist discussion about the way political districts in LA

The October

2022 2021


which was leaked a year later,

led to several calls for De Len to resign, but he has a hero

is his

post representing the 14th District, which includes northeastern Los Angeles. Among the seven candidates vying to replace him are two former state Assembly members, a DSA-backed activist, a high school science teacher, a real estate attorney, a geriatric social worker and a nonprofit consultant.

In Los Angeles County, three incumbents are running for re-election to the Board of Supervisors.

After serving in the Senate and one term on the county executive, Holly Mitchell is the incumbent candidate in the 2nd District. The incumbent president praised the expressions of support from Bass, the unions and the Sierra Club.

The county’s 4th District is home to Supervisor Janice Hahn, part of a political dynasty headed for four decades by her father, Supervisor Kenneth Hahn, as well as her brother, a former city comptroller, city attorney and mayor.

Hahn has attracted a high-profile and controversial opponent, former Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who reined in his department’s oversight and lost his 2022 re-election bid in a landslide. The two are joined in the vote by John Cruikshank, who has served for seven years. as a councilman and mayor in Rancho Palos Verdes.

The 5th Supervisory District, which reaches into the north end of the county, has been represented by Kathryn Barger since 2016. Although she is a Republican, Barger has received the support of labor unions, including SEIU Local 721 and the Assn. for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, which represents the rank-and-file members of the Sheriff’s Department. She also has the support of an advocacy group for Planned Parenthood.

The challenger with the highest political profile is Chris Holden, a Democrat who represents Pasadena in the state Assembly and who is forced to leave that post by term limits. Holden also has significant support from the labor movement, including from some SEIU locals.

The Los Angeles Board of Education will be reshaped in Tuesday’s elections as two major political and educational figures Jackie Goldberg and George McKenna are set to retire at the end of the year. A total of 18 candidates are aiming for one of the four seats on the ballot paper. Most races will likely be settled with a runoff in November.

The outcome will determine whether the majority of the board will be more or less supportive of charters, which are privately run, usually non-union public schools. The district is facing financial uncertainty due to declining enrollment and the expiration of pandemic aid as it tries to boost student achievement.

Times staff writer Howard Blume contributed to this report.


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