It’s Down to ‘D Day’ in CD1 Race

By Gloria Alvarez, EGP Managing Editor

In less than a week, voters in Los Angeles’s first district will decide who will represent them in the city council for the next five years.

Next Tuesday is “D Day,” closing out what had been a rough and tumble, volatile campaign between a longtime legislator, incumbent Gil Cedillo and campaign novice and bike-lane advocate, Joe Bray-Ali.

Cedillo, who was elected in 2013, was forced into the May 16 runoff when he fell just short of the required 50 percent to win the race outright in the March 7 primary, finishing with 49.34 percent to Bray-Ali’s 37.97 percent.

For the next month, Bray-Ali appeared to be gaining ground on the incumbent, receiving some high profile endorsements and tapping into voters who felt Cedillo and his staff had not been responsive to the district’s needs.

Cedillo’s campaign looked to turn things around with more events and handshaking, and more aggressively reaching out to voters to let them know what he had being doing to improve public safety and cleanliness in the district, as well as infrastructure repairs and traffic safety enhancements.

Two weeks ago, Cedillo’s campaign got a major boost when Bray-Ali came under fire from LGBT groups, civil rights organizations and numerous elected city officials for a series of racist and derogatory statements he made online, some as recently as one year ago.

He lost key endorsements over comments he made online in which he used the N-word, called gender reassignment surgery a “shameless excess,” used the word “retard” and made other comments which offended leaders in the LGBT and civil rights communities.

Bray-Ali did further injury to his campaign by posting other damaging information about himself, on his Facebook page, in which he admitted to cheating on his wife for years, owing $48,000 in back taxes and committing vandalism.

According to Bray-Ali, he wanted to put the information out before it could be used by the Cedillo campaign to “smear” him.

The revelations led to calls for him to withdraw, but Bray-Ali had pledged to stay in the race until the finish.

Bray-Ali has continued to make campaign appearances and knock on doors in an effort to sway voters in his direction. Whether it’s enough to overcome the controversies surrounding him remains to been seen.

Cedillo, meanwhile, is not taking anything for granted in the wake of Bray-Ali’s seeming downfall. He and his campaign have stepped up efforts to engage voters across the district.

(EGP photo archive)

(EGP photo archive)

Councilman Gil Cedillo, top, will go up against challenger Joe Bray-Ali,bottom, in the L.A. City Council District 1 runoff May 16. (Joe Bray-Ali For City Council District 1)

Councilman Gil Cedillo, top, will go up against challenger Joe Bray-Ali,bottom, in the L.A. City Council District 1 runoff May 16. (Joe Bray-Ali For City Council District 1)

 

Thirty years ago, a landmark court decision on redistricting created what is now the city of Los Angeles’s first council district, that runs from Lincoln Heights to Highland Park, through downtown over to Koreatown, and Westlake.

MAOF, the Mexican Legal Defense and Education Fund, at the time argued in court that Los Angeles leaders had for decades engaged in gerrymandering, drawing district boundary lines that marginalized Latino representation in the voting process. MAOF argued that including the San Fernando Valley in the district had resulted in Latinos being able to potentially only elect one Latino to the city council, and that was in what is now Council District 14.

The courts agreed, and in 1987, the city was forced to reconfigure the district, removing the San Fernando Valley and concentrating CD-1 in northeast, downtown and an area just west of the civic center, thereby creating a second majority-Latino council district.

The district had been represented by a Latino ever since, but according to Antonio Gonzalez, president of the Southwest Voter Education Project, that could change if longtime voters fail to get out and vote to reelect Council Gil Cedillo over his challenger in the race, Joe Bray-Ali.

His failure to win the primary outright caught Cedillo’s campaign and many eastside leaders by surprise, according to Gonzalez, who in analysis of the campaign released in April noted that it may not have been an “anti-incumbent” trend that forced Cedillo into a runoff, but “the changing demographics and gentrification of the District.”

“CD1 (like CD14 and CD13) is rapidly changing as youthful hipsters/millennials colonize the eastside together with developers looking for redevelopment opportunities,” wrote Gonzalez. “The elderly Chican@ homeowner class is beginning to exit the stage either through death or relocation to greener pastures (i.e. suburbs),” thus crating “unforeseen challenges for Cedillo.”

Based on that analysis, turn out remains a critical issue for both campaigns.

But according to Gonzalez, the odds favor Cedillo, because “high propensity voters in CD1 tend to be older, Latin@ and white homeowners that typically favor incumbents in low turnout races.

“Add to that Cedillo’s unique ability to attract down-scale Mexican and Salvadoran naturalized voters grateful for his generation-long advocacy for immigrants,” says Gonzalez, and it appears Cedillo has a “winning coalition” that could spur him onto victory, despite Bray-A1i’s appeal as “something new” to voters willing to overlook his many transgressions.

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May 11, 2017  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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