LA City Council races: Key takeaways about each candidate

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The employee entrance of LA City Hall is seen on October 14, 2022. Photo by Amy Ta.

Four of the 15 LA City Council districts seats are up for grabs during the midterm elections. That includes District 5 (parts of Santa Monica mountains), 11 (Pacific Palisades), 13 (Hollywood), and 15 (San Pedro).

The District 5 race is between Katy Young Yaroslavsky, daughter-in-law of Zev Yaroslavsky who represented that same district for decades, and Sam Yebri. They are both lawyers, explains LA Times Metro Reporter Julia Wick, and they both grew up partially in this district. 

While they both plan to prioritize prevention of homelessness and want to create more affordable housing, they differ slightly on how they would have voted on the city’s anti-camping ordinance. 

Wick says, “Yaroslavsky has framed it as something that should be employed as a real strategy of last resort. Whereas Yebri has said, ‘Anti-camping ordinances should be used pretty robustly.’”

The race for District 11 is for Councilmember Mike Bonin’s seat and will be a match-up between Traci Park and Erin Darling. Bonin was most recently at the center of the leaked audio scandal at City Hall, where his son was targeted by racist comments in the tape. 

Beyond that, though, Bonin had become a divisive figure in his district, mostly because of his handling of homeless encampments. 

LA Magazine Reporter Jon Regardie says that it is best to look at the candidates vying to replace Bonin together. “This is almost a case of what I like to call ‘left and lefter.’ In almost every single City Council district in Los Angeles, we're talking about strict Democrats.”

He adds, “Traci Park is more of a centrist Democrat, Erin Darling who is running against her, is a much more progressive, even further left wing Democrat.” 

Darling, Regardie explains, has been compared to Bonin, and some even refer to him as “Mike Bonin 2.0,” even though he has gone out of his way to differentiate himself from the current council member.  

Similarly to CD 5, both candidates are attorneys. But when it comes down to homelessness and housing, they differ. “Traci Park has said she would be a little more forceful on addressing homelessness than Erin Darling is. But this race has gotten really nasty they have really gone after each other.”

For District 13, current Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell is facing off against Hugo Soto-Martinez, a labor and community organizer who got more votes than O’Farrell in the primaries.

Wick says, “Soto-Martinez was a longtime organizer with UNITE HERE! local 11, the hotel workers union. … And he is really closely aligned with this new progressive movement that has built a lot of power in the last two years … beginning on the grand scale with Councilmember Nithya Raman's election in 2020.”

Soto-Martinez is closely allied with Raman and Councilmember-elect Eunisses Hernandez, who just unseated Councilmember Gil Cedillo. Wick says that he is to the left of the incumbent Councilmember O’Farrell. If Soto-Martinez was able to nab the seat in his district and Erin Darling was able to win his, there would be a block of progressives on the City Council, which would empower this movement. 

For District 15, Tim McOsker and Danielle Sandoval are facing off. And this more conservative-leaning district is very important to LA’s economy. Former police officer Joe Buscaino is the outgoing council member there. 

McOsker has been an attorney, helmed a nonprofit, and was chief of staff to Mayor Jim Hahn. Regardie says, “He really knows the ins and outs of political Los Angeles, and he has been highly favored by the connected class.”

Sandoval is running as much more of an outsider, explains Regardie. 

“She's been a member of various neighborhood councils, community groups and … Tim McCusker finished first in the primary, but a lot of people were fairly surprised that he did not win outright, that he was pushed into a runoff by Danielle Sandoval.”

She did have some momentum recently, but she was also reportedly involved in wage theft with a restaurant she formerly owned. Sandoval has denied any allegations of wrongdoing, but Regardie says, “she's been struggling to regain momentum ever since then.”