By Ray Richardson
LOS ANGELES — Filing opened this week for seven City Council seats up for re-election in the March 5 primary and at least 11 candidates are aiming to defeat incumbents in Council Districts 8 and 10 in South Los Angeles.
The filing period for candidates began Nov. 6. All candidates have until Dec. 6 to submit the required 500 signatures from registered voters in their districts to the City Clerk’s Elections Division to ensure a spot on the ballot.
The large number of candidates reflects the push for new leadership on the Los Angeles City Council, a governing body distracted in recent years by corruption and scandal.
“We need to restore trust in the City Council,” said Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer, one of eight people running for the 10th District seat currently held by Councilwoman Heather Hutt. “It’s never been this bad.”
Five other seats are up for re-election – District 2 (Paul Krekorian), District 4 (Nithya Raman), District 6 (Imelda Padilla), District 12 (John Lee) and District 14 (Kevin de Leon).
Jones-Sawyer, a longtime resident of the 10th District, is the most experienced challenger to Hutt and figures to give the incumbent a strong battle to hang onto the seat.
The 10th District has the second-largest percentage of Black residents in the city behind District 8. Both districts will likely attract huge interest in the primary elections, particularly District 10, which has been struggling for stability in the aftermath of the indictment and conviction of former Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas on federal fraud allegations.
“For what the district has been through the past few years, CD10 is a critical seat,” said Rev. William Smart, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Southern California chapter and a 10th District resident. “We’ve had quality leadership under Heather Hutt. No matter who wins the primary, we want the quality leadership to continue.”
Hutt had the difficult role of leading District 10 as an interim representative for seven months without voting privileges. The City Council changed Hutt’s status with a unanimous vote in April to formally appoint her as District 10 council member, giving her voting privileges, committee assignments and normal duties as a City Council representative.
Though Hutt has support and popularity in the district, she is potentially facing eight competitors if all of them get the required signed petitions by Dec. 6. Many District 10 residents are expected to be intrigued by seeing Jones-Sawyer’s name on the ballot.
Jones-Sawyer has name recognition after serving in the California Legislature since 2012 and working as director of assets management for the city of Los Angeles’ Department of General Services.
In the Eighth District, Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson appears to be facing a much smaller number of opponents. Cliff Smith, a board member of the South Central Neighborhood Council, has the most name recognition among Harris-Dawson’s three challengers.
Smith understands the strong odds he’s up against to unseat Harris-Dawson, who has represented the Eighth District since 2015 and has become one of the City Council’s most visible members.
Harris-Dawson was appointed City Council president pro tem to replace Ninth District Councilman Curren Price while Price battles charges of ethics violations and embezzlement.
“Harris-Dawson is the establishment,” Smith said. “He’s a protege of the mayor [Karen Bass]. He’s got the machine behind him, but the winds of change are blowing. Voters are losing confidence from what they’re seeing in our city government. I’m already engaged in the community and listening to people.”
Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles is also planning to keep in touch with the community in response to the filing period. The organization was diligent in protesting 14th District Councilman Kevin de León for his role in the racist taped recording in October 2022 that featured three other Latino leaders.
De León refused to resign and fought off two recall petitions, but he must get at least 50% of the primary vote to be eligible for the general election next Nov. 5.
“We’re going to do all we can to make sure he doesn’t make it past the primary,” Melina Abdullah, president of Black Lives Matter-LA, said of de León. “We’re going to be canvassing in his district. We’re going to go door to door to tell people not to vote for him.”
At least five candidates have declared their intentions to run against de Leon, including two California legislators — Assemblyman Miguel Santiago (54th District) and Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo (52nd District).
Ray Richardson is a contributing writer for The Wave. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2024 City Council races shaping up in 8th, 10th districts