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LA City Election: 5 races to watch in 2015

Los Angeles City Hall, completed 1928, is the center of the government of the city of Los Angeles, California, and houses the mayor's office and the meeting chambers and offices of the Los Angeles City Council. It is located in the Civic Center district of downtown Los Angeles in the city block bounded by Main, Temple, First, and Spring streets.

(Source: Wikipedia)
Photo by Harshil Shah via Flickr Creative Commons
The final list of candidates for the city of Los Angeles' 2015 primary was released by the City Clerk's Office.

Next year's municipal elections could bring greater diversity to the Los Angeles City Council with Asian-American and female candidates hoping to pick up a handful of seats on the 15-member body. 

At the moment, there is a single woman -- Nury Martinez -- on the council and no Asian-American councilmembers.

In the history of the city, only one Asian-American, Mike Woo, has ever served on the council. Now, candidates hope to change that.

In the Fourth District, David Ryu hopes to win by building a coalition that goes beyond his Korean-American heritage, according to the Los Angeles Times.

And in the 10th District, Grace Yoo is challenging Councilman Herb Wesson, according to the city, which released the final list of candidates for the ballot today.

Yoo and Wesson tangled in the 2012 redistricting process over which district should get to represent the Korean community.

For a short period in 2013, every elected official in Los Angeles was a man. Women running in the Fourth, Eighth, Tenth and Fourteenth districts hope to join Martinez on the council. And Martinez is facing a female challenger in her Sixth District race. 

The greatest challenge for the candidates will be to get Angelenos to participate. With no city-wide office on the ballot, turnout is expected to be low.

In 2011, the last non-mayoral city election, turnout in the primary was 14 percent. The time before that, in 2007, it was 11 percent.

Those low turnouts cost the city a lot of money. L.A. has allocated $7.9 million for elections in 2015, but the bottom line number won't be known until after the May 19 runoff, according to the City Clerk's Office. 

The primary is on March 3, 2015.

Here's a list of Los Angeles candidates on the March ballot:

Fourth District (Hancock Park, Los Feliz, Sherman Oaks)

This is one of two districts with an open seat (the other is South L.A.'s Eighth District) as incumbent Councilman Tom LaBonge leaves thanks to term limits. That may explain why this is the most crowded field on the primary ballot. The 14 candidates are: 

  • David Ryu, community health director
  • Carolyn Ramsay, chief of staff to Councilman Tom LaBonge
  • Joan Pelico, chief of staff to Councilman Paul Koretz
  • Teddy Davis, attorney/educator
  • Step Jones, vapor advocate
  • Rostom "Ross" Sarkissian, small business owner
  • Mike Schaefer, public interest advocate
  • Wally Knox, attorney and former state assemblyman 
  • Tomas O'Grady, nonprofit director/entrepreneur 
  • Jay Beeber, community advocate/businessman
  • Tara Bannister, associate director/educator
  • Sheila Irani, businesswoman/community leader
  • Fred Mariscal, marketing executive
  • Steve Veres, trustee for L.A. Community College District  

Sixth District (Van Nuys, Sun Valley)

This race could be called "2013 Special Election: the Sequel." Two years ago, school board member Nury Martinez surprised many observers by beating out Cindy Montanez for the Valley seat in a special election. That victory came even though Montanez finished 19 points ahead of Martinez in the primary. Montanez is again challenging Martinez. They are the only two candidates on the ballot.

  • Cindy Montanez, community advocate
  • Nury Martinez, L.A. City Councilwoman 

Eighth District (Baldwin Hills, Hyde Park, USC)

There is no incumbent in this race as Councilman Bernard Parks finishes out a lifetime in public service. His career has taken him from cop to chief of the Los Angeles Police Department to three-term city councilman (he even made a cameo onPeople's 50 Most Beautiful list in 1998). There are four candidates in the race:

  • Forescee Hogan-Rowles, Community Development CEO
  • Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Community Coalition Director
  • Bobbie Jean Anderson, California State Commissioner
  • Robert L. Cole, Jr., commissioner/educator/businessperson

10th District (Koreatown, Leimert Park)

Back in 2012, Council President Herb Wesson oversaw the city's redistricting process. The new maps drew criticism from Koreatown activists who wanted to see their community united in one district. One of the loudest voices in the redistricting fight was Grace Yoo. She's now running against Wesson. 

  • Delaney "Doc" Smith, physician/lecturer/theologian
  • Grace Yoo, community organizer/attorney
  • Herb Wesson, L.A. City Councilman

14th District (Downtown, Boyle Heights, Eagle Rock)

It is rare for an incumbent council member to be voted out of office but Councilman Jose Huizar will have serious competition in 2015: Gloria Molina. The decades-long county supervisor was termed out of office earlier this month. In 1987, Molina was the first Latina elected to the city council (and remained the only Latina in the council's history until Nury Martinez's election in 2013).

  • Nadine Momoyo Diaz, social worker/researcher
  • Jose Huizar, L.A. City Councilman 
  • John O'Neill, community political consultant
  • Mario Chavez, activist/union organizer
  • Gloria Molina, L.A. County Supervisor 

The remaining two city offices are expected to remain with the incumbents.
In the San Fernando Valley's Second District, Councilman Paul Krekorian will face Eric Preven, a frequent speaker at meetings of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors. He ran for the board last year, finishing eighth in the primary with 1.5 percent of the vote, according to the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk. 

Councilman Mitch Englander, whose district includes Chatsworth and Reseda, is unopposed. 

Angelenos will also vote for school board members in March. Five candidates will challenge incumbent Tamar Galatzan. Board member Bennett Kayser has two challengers, both identified as educators, and incumbent Richard Vladovic faces two opponents of his own. 

Recently elected board member George McKenna, who won a special election this year to the finish up Margueritte LaMotte's term, is running unopposed.