Cedillo Claims Victory With 70% of Vote

May 18, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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.

 

Cedillo Claims Victory With 70% of Vote

May 18, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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.

 

Cedillo Wins Big In Council Race

May 17, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Councilman Gil Cedillo was celebrating a commanding re-election victory Wednesday over an opponent whose campaign fizzled amid a wave of questionable internet posts condemned by critics as derogatory and racially insensitive.

Cedillo, who narrowly missed being re-elected during the March primary, crushed challenger Joe Bray-Ali in Tuesday’s runoff, completing the downfall of a once-hopeful 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.

Unofficial results posted Wednesday on the Los Angeles City Clerk website has Cedillo with a commanding lead, 79.5 percent to Bray-Ali’s 29.4 percent.

The 1st Council District includes Chinatown, Highland Park, Westlake and other northeast Los Angeles neighborhoods.

A billboard for urging the public to vote for Councilman Gil Cedillo is found next to the campaign office of his challenger Joe Bray-Ali. (Photo by Diana Martinez)

A billboard for urging the public to vote for Councilman Gil Cedillo is found next to the campaign office of his challenger Joe Bray-Ali. (Photo by Diana Martinez)

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.

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.

Celebrating with Cedillo 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. He 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.

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.

Despite Growing Criticism, Bray-Ali Says He Will Not Drop Out of Race

May 4, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

An embattled first-time political candidate for city council went on the defensive Wednesday, posting a video on his campaign’s Facebook page claiming recent media reports about his character – or lack thereof – are nothing more than a political “distraction” and a “misrepresentation and mischaracterization not only of my words but who I am as a person.”

Joe Bray-Ali is challenging Councilman Gil Cedillo in the 1st Council District, and has come under intense 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.

Cedillo was forced into the May 16 runoff when he fell just short of the required 50 percent of the vote on March 7, finishing with 49.34 percent to Bray-Ali’s 37.97 percent.

Several groups have criticized Bray-Ali as seeming ‘un-repentant” for 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.

On Wednesday, a small group of veterans added their voices to the growing number of critics calling for Bray-Ali to withdraw from the race.

Although the vets do not represent any official veterans organization, a spokesman for the group, Mark Quiroz, said the vets are angered over a 2006 blog post from Bray-Ali in which he wrote, “Let people burn the flag all they want, let ‘em put it in their avant-garde art videos smeared in poo, let them destroy it.”

Quiroz said Bray-Ali was asked by a veteran at a candidate forum on April 19 to apologize for the comments and he declined.

“He was given the opportunity to apologize in an open forum and he refused to,” said Quiroz, a former member of the Glassell Park Neighborhood Council, adding that the veterans do not plan to endorse Cedillo.

In a Facebook video posted Wednesday, Bray-Ali said his words were taken out of context, and that what he wrote in the 2006 blog post was a response opposing legislative action to ban flag burning, and he was saying the flag is not the people.

A group of military veterans gathered at the Highland Park Veterans Memorial Wednesday call for Joe Bray-Ali to withdraw over comments he made about flag burning in 2006 on blog post. (Courtesy of Al C. Strange)

A group of military veterans gathered at the Highland Park Veterans Memorial Wednesday call for Joe Bray-Ali to withdraw over comments he made about flag burning in 2006 on blog post. (Courtesy of Al C. Strange)

Discovery of the postings, characterized as racist, transphobic and misogynist, prompted the Los Angeles Times and City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell and the Eastside Democratic Club last week to rescind their endorsements. Bray-Ali was also denounced by City Controller Ron Galperin and seven City Council members and numerous leaders from the LGBT and civil rights communities have called for him to pull out of the race.

The endorsements had been a significant boost for Bray-Ali, a former bicycle shop owner who has never held political office.

After losing the endorsements, Bray-Ali decided to come forward with other damaging information about himself, and in a Facebook post admitted to habitually 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.

Bray-Ali opened the post by saying, “Here is the dirt on me.” The post then said:

—“Flying Pigeon-LA LLC owes the State Board of Equalization for a failure to pay an audit and several quarters of sales taxes. The amount is ~$48,000 the last time I bothered to open the envelope.’

—“I slept with several other women from 2011 to 2014. Not my wife. For a time I even had a Tinder profile.’

—“I painted bike symbols (sharrows) in the middle of the night with friends, and on camera with German documentary filmmaker.’

—“I have said many profane, rude, statements to people I’ve gotten into arguments with online.’

In a new video posted Wednesday, Bray-Ali said he has trained as an anthropologist and is interested in listening to people who I “completely disagree with,” people who will stick to things no matter what. Last week he said that he visited the racist websites to “educate” himself.

Montecito Heights resident Diana Martinez doesn’t buy his explanation. She said one of his campaign supporters over the weekend asked her what the candidate could do to change her mind: “Tell him to tell the truth because no one believes he went to the low-life site to ‘educate,’” she says she responded. “It was Joe’s b.s. lying video that completely lost my vote,” said Martinez, who has lived in the district for 30 years.

But Bray-Ali is not backing down. He said his online slurs “are a distraction from what this election is about and not a reflection of who I am as a person. They are a verification that I am a human being with flaws, like everyone.”

He said the focus should be on replacing a “do-nothing incumbent” and keeping him from having another five-and-a-half more years in office. It’s about crime going up, the homeless and people being priced out of their homes,” and not about his online comments, the candidate said.

In the video posted Wednesday, Bray-Ali said he had struggled to come up with a response to the accusations being made against him, criticizing the main street media for picking up a “misleading story” and “sloppy reporting.”

Bray-Ali has vowed to fight through election day even though his comments have been denounced by City Controller Ron Galperin, Equality California, the Courage Campaign and the Los Angeles chapter of the National Action Network, along with seven sitting City Council members who called on him to drop out of the race.

Bray-Ali’s wife, Susan Wong, defended him on Tuesday in a post on his campaign’s Facebook page.

“I know my husband Josef, and he is a person of integrity. He is caring and inclusive of all people. In this climate, it is so important for people to check the sources and see if true journalism is occurring, or if a misleading headline, and mischaracterizations are occurring — we need to make sure that we critically analyze everything,” Wong said.

“I’ve lived here for nearly 30 years” and I’m disappointed Cedillo’s supporters aren’t in front of Bray-Ali’s office protesting every day, said Martinez.

“I’m sure he won’t mind losing my vote … I’m fat, I honk my horn sometimes to alert my son when he doesn’t pick up the phone, and I have friends who have had sex change operations,” Martinez said.

“If he’s honorable, drop out of the race.”

 

Information from City News Service was used in this report.

 

Bray-Ali Accused of Making Racist, Transphobic Comments

April 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

City Council challenger Joe Bray-Ali’s campaign took another publicity hit Wednesday with the revelation of derogatory comments he posted online targeting the black and transgender communities, along with mentally disabled and overweight people.

The comments, first reported by LAist, include the use of the N-word during participation in a racist forum dedicated to expressing hatred of black people. The revelations come about a week after Bray-Ali apologized for a 9-year-old YouTube video in which he made comments directed at Mexicans.

The video appears on a Bray-Ali YouTube page. Holding his baby in his lap, Bray-Ali, who is of multiracial descent but not Latino, looks at the camera and says, “Dear Mexican. I’d like to know why all my neighbors think the doorbell is a car horn. They wake up my baby.”

Below the video is text that reads, “Why do some of my neighbors think that their car’s horn is a doorbell? The Asians, whites and other groups I live near don’t honk to tell their friends they have arrived. What is up with the Mexicans?”

Bray-Ali’s campaign manager, Michael Atkins, told City News Service the video was old and a relic of the First District challenger’s youth.

“Joe apologizes. He says the comment was stupid and it’s amazing how social media can remind of the mistakes of youth. This was nine years ago,” Atkins said.

The newly reported comments were made on a Reddit-like website called Voat under an online alias, ubrayj02, which Bray-Ali has used as his MySpace, Flickr and YouTube handle for more than a decade, according to LAist. In contrast to the You Tube video, some of the comments are just over a year old, close to the time Bray-Ali entered the city council race.

Bray-Ali has deleted the Voat comments over the last few days, LAist reported.

The Bray-Ali campaign did not respond to a request for comment from City News Service. But Bray-Ali told LAist, “Looking back on the comments, I’m embarrassed and ashamed. I apologize to my wife, daughter, family and community for putting them in this situation. My commitment to being accountable and of service to the community continues.”

Bray-Ali, 38, is challenging 1st District City Councilman Gil Cedillo, 63. Cedillo was forced into the May 16 runoff when the incumbent fell just short of the required 50 percent of the vote on March 7, finishing with 49.34 percent to Bray-Ali’s 37.97 percent.

“The comments made by Joe Bray-Ali on Voat are disgraceful and have no place in the public square,” Cedillo said. “His assault on people from all walks of life clearly demonstrates that he is not fit for public office, and particularly unsuited to represent a district as diverse as Los Angeles’ 1st. This pattern of behavior is not acceptable in the Los Angeles City Council. I vehemently denounce his comments.”

The “Dear Mexican” video surfaced after Bray-Ali sent out a statement accusing Cedillo of failing to denounce an anti-immigrant slur yelled at Bray-Ali during a debate, when someone in

the audience said, “Go back to India.”

Bray-Ali has an Indian father, and is also of Hungarian, Irish and Jewish descent.

Cedillo is Latino and said he did not hear the comment yelled at Bray-Ali during the debate. A video of the debate showed that Cedillo was taking notes at the time and it was not clear if he heard the person.

He later denounced the comment, saying he would have done it sooner had he heard the remark.

Bray-Ali’s comments are drawing strong criticism from the leaders of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Action Network — the nonprofit civil rights organization founded by Rev. Al Sharpton. The group called on Bray-Ali to drop out of the race and for Councilman Mitch O’Farrell to pull his endorsement of Bray-Ali.

“Bray-Ali is clearly unfit to serve in public service as a council member and doesn’t deserve the support of Council member O’Farrell or any voter. His transphobic, fat-shaming comments while participating on a racist website demonstrates he doesn’t have the moral character or leadership to serve as an elected official,” said Najee Ali, political director of NAN, and Pastor K.W.Tullloss, CEO of NAN, in a joint statement.

In one of the forums, which uses the N-word as its title, Bray-Ali commented on some videos of black people fighting, taking aim at their fighting skills and appearance and also used the word “retard” to describe a cameraman’s skills.

Other commentators use the N-word and other derogatory and racist language repeatedly, and Bray-Ali did not denounce the language in his own posts. One commentator said, “I like it when they die. Black lives don’t matter. Good for entertainment though.”

Bray-Ali also used the N-word himself when he said that dark-skinned people in a particular image were not Africans, which should disqualify them from being called the N-word.

On a forum called “v/FATPEOPLEHATE,” Bray-Ali commented on an overweight woman accused of aiding in the sexual abuse of her daughter, saying “If they keep her on her diet, that won’t be a long lifetime.”

In another forum, Bray-Ali said gender-reassignment surgery for transgender people “doesn’t seem like something worthy of praise, but instead of being criticized as a shameful excess.”

Bray-Ali is a former bicycle shop owner and biking activist. Although he has never held elected office, he received the endorsement of the Los Angeles Times editorial board and O’Farrell.

O’Farrell is openly gay and a vocal advocate for LGBT rights. He did not immediately respond to a request to comment.

 

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