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First Korean American Scores City Council Seat

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Los Angeles has elected its first-ever Korean American City Council member by large margins, according to unofficial results.

David Ryu will set an historic precedent for more diverse representation in the city when he take the place of Councilman Tom LaBonge this July in the fourth district, which includes Sherman Oaks, Los Feliz, Hancock Park and Miracle Mile. Ryu is also only the second Asian American to be elected to the council since Mike Woo held a seat from 1985 to 1993.

And while Ryu won't represent Koreatown directly, part of his victory is credited to strong support from within and around the neighborhood. He tells the L.A. Times, "And today, it's historic not because I'm Asian American. It's historic because we are finally telling City Hall that we do not like business as usual."

Political scientist Fernando Guerra of Loyola Marymount University reminded KPCC listeners that, "he wouldn't have won if he only got Korean American or Asian American votes."

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Ryu is considered a political outsider and looks to have defeated Carolyn Ramsay—a former aide to Councilman LaBonge—by a large margin, despite support of her campaign from both Mayor Eric Garcetti and Council President Herb Wesson.

He did, however, receive backing from the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, though his website maintains his street cred by boasting that he won't be influenced by campaign contributions and has "never been part of the crowd at City Hall."

Yongho Kim of the Korean American Resource Center emphasizes the importance of Ryu's victory, telling KPCC, "It is a very big deal. There is growing voting power, voting influence of Asian Americans."