Cedillo Claims Victory With 70% of Vote

By Gloria Alvarez, EGP Managing Editor

After widely being expected to win re-election outright in March, Councilman Gilbert “Gil” Cedillo finally declared victory Tuesday, crushing challenger Joe Bray-Ali in the 1st Council District runoff, completing the downfall of a once-hopeful challenger.

Unofficial results posted Wednesday on the Los Angeles City Clerk website had Cedillo with a commanding lead, 70.5 percent to Bray-Ali’s 29.4 percent. Too few votes remain to be counted to put a dent in Cedillo’s landslide win.

The 1st Council District includes Chinatown, Highland Park, Lincoln Heights, Pico-Union, Westlake and other east and northeast neighborhoods.

(Gil Cedillo Twitter)

(Gil Cedillo Twitter)

Workers from both campaigns were out in full force Election Day, knocking on doors and making phone calls on behalf of their candidate right up to the polls closing.

Standing outside his polling place at the Lincoln Heights Senior Center Tuesday, Adrian Aceves said he voted for Cedillo because the councilman does what’s right for Latinos: “Who else can we trust,” the 72-year-old said in Spanish.

“I’m here [at the center] all the time and all the seniors like me are voting for him because he’s really cleaning things up and making things better.”

At 6 p.m. Tuesday, the center was nearly deserted. Aceves said it had been like that all day. Poll workers said the turnout had been “steady,” with a short rush around 5 p.m.

There are 2,075,452 registered voters in the city, but only 175,683 votes were cast citywide, putting the turnout at about 8.46 percent. Over half the ballots, 107,413 were vote-by-mail. In Council District 1, with just 12,481 ballots to count election night, it did not take long for the election results to start rolling in.

Claiming victory early Tuesday night in front of a packed room of supporters gathered at the Tree House Lounge in Chinatown, Cedillo said voters in the 1st District “…chose experience, they chose an incredible record.” He said voters selected the candidate “who wants to bring people together.”

The incumbent councilman pledged to continue working closely with the community on making progress in Council District 1.

Cedillo’s challenger, Bray-Ali, turned heads when he forced Cedillo into the runoff because he has never held elective office, and no incumbent has been beaten in a City Council election since 2003.

But Bray-Ali’s post primary momentum took a major hit in late April when a series of racist and derogatory statements he had made online came to light, causing him to lose a number of key endorsements, despite his attempts to explain away the comments as having been taken out of context.

One of the posts included the racial slur known as the N-word, and others appeared to mock overweight people and the transgender community. Following the revelations, Bray-Ali was denounced by numerous civil rights and LGBT leaders in Los Angeles, and seven City Council members called for him to drop out of the race.

Outside the Highland Park Recreation Center Tuesday, about an hour before the polls closed, Martha, who preferred not to use her last name, said she voted for Bray-Ali because at least “he could make a fresh start for the district.”

“I had a lot of hope when I voted for Cedillo when he first ran, but he let me down,” Martha said.

“My family is all immigrants, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only thing I care about,” she said. “Joe has a lot of bad stuff to make up for, so maybe we can pressure him into doing more things for us,” the mother of three told EGP.

Cedillo supporters say the councilman has not been given enough credit for what he has done in the district, pointing out that his trash hauling and bulky item removal programs have been expanded citywide by Mayor Garcetti. They hailed his decades of work on behalf of undocumented immigrants and workers.

In a Facebook post Monday appealing to voters to turn out, Becca Dotten praised Cedillo’s “long commitment to the environment, in particularly ensuring environmental justice in low-income communities. He has helped create and revitalize acres upon acres of park space, including along the LA River and LA State Park.” She also praised his efforts to build affordable housing.

Celebrating with Cedillo Tuesday was a who’s who of progressive current and former elected officials, business interests, labor groups, and immigrant rights and community activists.

Cedillo had a long list of endorsements, including Mayor Eric Garcetti, eight City Council members, Gov. Jerry Brown and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California.

“Congratulations to Gil Cedillo on his well-deserved re-election that ensures we can continue building stronger neighborhoods and standing up for the most vulnerable Angelenos,” Garcetti said.

Cedillo also had the support of the powerful, 600,000 member Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, which through a committee spent $300,000 on the incumbent’s campaign, on top of the over $500,000 Cedillo’s campaign raised from other sources.

“The voters showed that experience, ability and empathy matter. Council District One remains in good hands,” wrote Dotten Tuesday.

Cedillo closed out his comments Tuesday by thanking supporters, telling them, “I know what you’ve done, I know how hard your worked, I know your prayers, I know your commitments, I know your positive thoughts, I know all that you’ve done to get us to this point, and for that I say thank you and God bless …”

Information from City News Service used in this report.

 

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May 18, 2017  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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