Call them super progressives: LA’s political left wants to expand its power at City Hall

(LEFT: Michael Blackshire; CENTER: Michael Blackshire: RIGHT: Mel Melcon /Los Angeles Times)

Call them super progressives: LA’s political left wants to expand its power at City Hall

LA Politics, Elections 2024, Homepage News, California Politics

David Zahniser

March 24, 2024

You could call them political progressives. Or maybe super-progressives, given how much they want to reform politics in Los Angeles.

Whatever the label, candidates on the left side of the political spectrum made crucial progress in the March 5 City Council primaries, paving the way for some hard-fought runoff campaigns and a possible expansion of their power by the end of the year. .

Progressive activists and advocacy groups helped re-elect City Council Member Nithya Raman, while two other left-wing candidates, tenants’ rights attorney Ysabel Jurado and small business owner Jillian Burgos, found themselves in a runoff against more moderate rivals.

“I think the results consistently show across the board that if we show up, we win,” said Bill Przylucki, executive director of Ground Game LA, a nonprofit that has pushed the council to the left for years.

Tenancy lawyer Ysabel Jurado will compete against councilor Kevin de Len in the second round

If Burgos and Jurado win in November, the number of councilors with very progressive backgrounds will grow from three to five, making up a third of the 15-member council. Four of the five campaigned with the Democratic Socialists of America-Los Angeles. Burgos, the fifth, received support from other big names in left-wing political circles, including city manager Kenneth Mejia and former mayoral candidate Gina Viola.

A five-member super-progressive voting bloc would have significant influence on homelessness, subsidized housing, tenant protections, public transportation, bike lanes and the size of the Los Angeles Police Department.

The bloc would need just three more votes to pass legislation on a council in which several members, including Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Katy Yaroslavsky, vote left of center. Super progressives would also hold additional seats on the council’s committees, allowing them to shape policy from the start, Przylucki said.

Some players in LA politics are saying that

impact effect

of the left in the primaries is exaggerated. They point out that Councilman John Lee, one of the council’s centrist members, easily won his case

election bid in the Northwest Valley. Another incumbent, Councilor Imelda Padilla, went to Re

election after gaining support from public safety unions, construction unions, Valley business groups and others.

Raman won 50.7% of the vote, gaining the majority she needed to win outright. But that victory simply preserved the council’s existing political makeup, said Tom Saggau, spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Protective League, which waged an expensive but unsuccessful campaign against Raman.

“In the end, there was no net gain for any ideology on the council,” he said. ‘There are still three socialists on the council. That was before the election, that was after the election.”

Saggau said the police union has not yet decided how it will spend its resources in the upcoming second round


LA’s progressive groups remain hopeful that Jurado and Burgos will win and change the status quo.

Julio Marcial, senior vice president of the nonprofit Liberty Hill Foundation, said expanding the council’s super-progressive bloc would ensure City Hall has a “real, honest conversation” about community safety strategies. For Marcial, that means shifting money from the LAPD to affordable housing, comprehensive mental health care, job training and other programs.

“We can no longer follow the same playbook around budgeting where we fully fund law enforcement and not the things that have been proven to be effective in creating community safety,” he said.

Burgos, who is running to represent a district in the eastern San Fernando Valley, said she hopes that if she and Jurado win, other council members will be inclined to embrace more progressive policies.

“Right now, some people are afraid to make those choices,” said Burgos, an optician who lives in North Hollywood and co-owns an interactive murder mystery theater company.

Burgos, 45, and Jurado, 34, have a long list of shared policy goals. Both want to repeal municipal code 41.18, which bans homeless encampments next to schools, daycare centers and “sensitive” locations such as senior centers and highway overpasses. Both want to create “social housing,” with city agencies tasked with buying, renovating and managing low-cost apartment complexes.

The two candidates want to take traffic enforcement out of the LAPD. And they hope to make free bus and train fares a more complicated goal, because the decision lies not with the City Council, but with Metro’s 13-member board.

“We have a real opportunity to usher in a progressive era” at the City Council, “instead of just chipping away at some of the solutions we care about,” said Jurado, who finished first in an eight-way race for the Eastside. seat now held by councilor Kevin de Len.

Burgos, who describes himself as a leftist, finished second in the race to replace Council President Paul Krekorian, who is stepping down at the end of this year. In first place is former State Assembly member Adrin Nazarian, a onetime Krekorian aide who describes himself as a “pragmatic progressive.”

In comparison, Nazian won 37% of the vote in the primaries

to with

22% for Burgos. In an interview, he said he, too, has pushed for progressive policies such as expanding public transportation, more funding to help students pay for college and the creation of a single-payer health care system. endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders


for president in the Democratic primaries.

“Judge me by my record. Judge me by my work ethic. There’s a reason why, in a crowded field of seven people, I was able to capture almost 40% of the vote,” he said.

Nazarian, unlike Burgos, supports the continued use of 41.18. He also spoke out in support of Mayor Karen Bass’ push to hire more police and increase their pay.

Asked about these two issues, Burgos called for more alternatives to police, saying in a statement that “data has shown that there is no link between the number of sworn officers or the police budget and crime.”

De Len, who came in second to Jurado, also defended his progressive credentials, pointing to his work on immigrant rights, climate change and laws to prevent the displacement of renters in downtown, Boyle Heights and elsewhere.

“My record of taking on the toughest fights in the Sanctuary State, 100% clean renewable energy, tenant protections and winning for my constituents shows that I know how to create real progressive change,” said De Len, a former Senate President seeking a second term.

De Len faces a difficult second round. He is still dealing with the fallout from a scandal over his participation in a secretly recorded conversation that included racist and derogatory comments.

Like Nazarian, he supports LAPD increases, hiring more police and using 41.18.

LA leftists made their first serious move at City Hall four years ago, helping elect Raman, a member of the

Democratic Socialists of America, DSA,

to the council


Unions and advocacy groups repeated that success in 2022 and worked to elect two more

DSA Democratic Socialists of America

-endorsed candidate activist Eunisses Hernandez and union organizer Hugo Soto-Martnez and ousted two incumbents.

The Ryu-Raman council race in LA reflects the battle over policing between Democrats and the left

Of the three, Raman did that

proven proven

to be the most moderate. Like Nazarian, she sometimes calls herself a “pragmatic progressive.” At one point in the primary campaign, she declined to say whether the city needs more police officers. At another point, she relied on former councilman Paul Koretz, who had called on the Irishman from L.A. leftists to vouch for her in the Los Angeles County Democratic Party.

Attorney Edgar Khalatian, who represents real estate developers at City Hall, said he views Raman as pro-business. Raman, whose district spans the Hollywood Hills, has shown “a strong backbone” in the city’s efforts to build more housing while also working to address the homelessness crisis, he said.

“The reason housing prices are as astronomical as they are is that decades of elected officials not supporting the development of more housing,” said Khalatian, chairman of the board of directors of the Central City Assn., a downtown business group . “She supports housing and will take the political pressure from the people in her district if she supports that housing.”

Raman won despite more than $1.3 million in outside expenses from the firefighters’ union and police officers

union, landlords and others for one of their opponents, Deputy City Atty. Ethan Weaver. These groups led a similar effort in the northwest Valley, spending a combined $1.1 million to help Lee fend off a challenge from nonprofit leader Serena Oberstein.

In South LA’s 10th Council District, law enforcement groups spent a total of $103,000 on ads portraying Reggie Jones-Sawyer, one of five candidates, as soft on crime. Jones-Sawyer, a member of the state Assembly, placed fifth.

“For the basis of the competition we had a few goals” in

this year’s municipal elections, said Saggau, spokesman for the police union. “One was to make sure that Reggie Jones-Sawyer wouldn’t bring his brand of criminal justice reform, or his ideas, to the city of LA, and we succeeded in that.”

The 10th District will instead see a runoff between Councilwoman Heather Hutt and attorney Grace Yoo, who share similar views on some of the city’s more controversial issues. Both support the city’s package of police raises and 41.18.

A spokesperson for the

Democratic Socialists of the American DSA

The Los Angeles chapter said its organization is unlikely to get involved in that contest, in part because neither candidate is a DSA member. Given that they both support police raises, it would be “remarkably difficult” for either to win the DSA’s endorsement, said the spokesperson, who declined to give her full name.


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