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As LA City Council seat opens up, hopefuls rush into 2017 race

Los Angeles City Councilman Felipe Fuentes (Seventh District)
Grant Slater/KPCC
Los Angeles City Councilman Felipe Fuentes (7th District).

The race for Los Angeles' 7th District City Council seat will be an unusual one next year: Councilman Felipe Fuentes recently announced he won’t be running for reelection and the field is filling with candidates hoping to succeed him.

Los Angeles has some of the highest paid city council members in the state, with salaries of more than $189,000 a year. At this level, politicians usually depart to seek higher office or because they have been defeated at the polls when they seek a new term.

Fuentes  said through a spokeswoman he doesn’t know what he will do next, but he wants to try something different. He declined an interview with KPCC.

"I know that I will be 46 years old when I finish this term, and I want to write a new chapter, try a new career," Fuentes said in a written statement. He added that he would continue to be active on behalf of his San Fernando Valley district, which includes the communities of Pacoima, Sylmar, Mission Hills, North Hills, Sunland-Tujunga and Lake View Terrace.

Fuentes has served as councilman since 2013 and currently chairs the Energy and Environment Committee. He began his career working as a field deputy to then-City Councilman Alex Padilla, now California's secretary of state. More recently, he served as a state assemblyman for the 39th District, until he was termed out in 2012. 

Days after announcing he would not seek reelection, Fuentes proposed a ballot measure to significantly change how the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is governed. The measure would ask voters to approve an amendment to the city charter that would create a full-time, professional board to oversee the DWP in an effort to eliminate the current tortured structure that has the agency reporting to a part-time board, the city council and mayor. 

A large field of candidates is shaping up to succeed Fuentes. In the past few weeks, more than 10 contenders filed fundraising paperwork to run for the seat.

Nancy Woodruff, a San Fernando Valley resident, was the first to begin collecting campaign contributions, according to Ethics Commission filings. Woodruff, a community leader who has been involved in the Foothills Trails District Neighborhood Council, has raised $4,500, according to campaign finance reports filed last week.