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(Dan Carino
LA City Council
Your guide to the L.A. City Council candidates and issues in the Nov. 8 general election. Still on the ballot: Districts 5, 11, 13 and 15.
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What does L.A.'s City Council do?

Those who follow city government closely say Los Angeles’ City Council is the most powerful city council in the United States. At just 15 members, each person elected to serve represents about 260,000 residents within a specific geographic area.

How does that stack up against other big cities? Well, the two other biggest cities in the nation — New York and Chicago — have 51 and 50 city council members, respectively.

Back in 1925, when the city made the switch from at-large representation to districts, each council member represented fewer than 39,000 people. Some observers of L.A. politics, including the Los Angeles Times editorial board, argue it’s time to expand the council. But for right now, we’re talking about 15 council seats, of which eight are currently up for election.

(Note: these districts just went through an extensive review and reshaping based on the results of the 2020 Census. You might not be voting in the same city council district as you did in 2020.)

With so much power in relatively few hands, the relationship the mayor has with the council is particularly important. The mayor needs the council's support to enact policy. Think of the council as L.A.'s legislature. While the mayor can make proposals and rally public support, it’s the council that writes and passes the laws.

So what exactly do members of the City Council do?

  • Create local laws, known as ordinances (the mayor then approves or vetoes those ordinances)
  • Order elections
  • Impose and regulate city taxes
  • Authorize public improvements
  • Approve city contracts
  • Adopt traffic regulations 

Councilmembers also vote on the mayor's proposed annual budget, which allocates funds for city departments. In all, the city employs about 50,000 people — second only to New York City — in more than 40 departments. It’s a lot of money to hold the purse strings for: The city’s proposed FY 2022-23 budget totals just under $12 billion.

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Here are some of the things they don’t do

  • Oversee the Los Angeles Unified School District (the school board does that) 
  • Oversee social services like mental health (this is handled at the county level) 
  • Make decisions regarding people who live in unincorporated areas of the county (places that aren’t part of the city of Los Angeles or any other city) or people who live in other incorporated cities, like West Hollywood or Inglewood

More Voter Guides

City of Los Angeles

L.A. County

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California propositions

  • Propositions 26 and 27: The difference between the sports betting ballot measures
  • Proposition 29: Why kidney dialysis is on your ballot for the third time
  • Proposition 30: Why Lyft is the biggest funder of this ballot measure

Head to the Voter Game Plan homepage for guides to the rest of your ballot.

How do they work?

The council is governed by a set of rules covering everything from when and how often it meets to who runs the meetings (the president, who is selected by fellow council members) and how the public can participate (“each speaker shall be limited to one minute of general public comment each regular meeting”).

In addition to regular meetings of the full council, there are numerous committee meetings focused on areas like transportation, public health, budget and finance, immigrant affairs, public safety, and information and technology. Some cover a range of topics, including the "Energy, Climate Change, Environmental Justice, and River Committee" and the "Personnel, Audits, and Animal Welfare Committee."

See a full list of council committees and their meeting schedule.

A City Council term is four years; a councilmember can serve a maximum of three terms. The current annual salary for a councilmember is about $224,000.

You might recognize their work from…

The City Council works as a collective to pass laws that affect the entire city, but your councilmember can have a big impact on your community. That’s because councilmembers have a lot of power to direct funds within their districts.

For example, councilmembers typically have discretion over money earmarked for transportation safety improvements in their district. LAist previously reported on how this played out in two different districts where pedestrians were killed at intersections — in District 5, traffic safety upgrades came less than two months after the pedestrian died, while the other community, which sits in District 10, has been waiting for more than two years for similar improvements.

Councilmembers also have a lot of discretion over how strongly to enforce city ordinances, like the anti-camping ban, which forbids people who are unhoused from camping on public property that's close to parks, libraries, underpasses and other locations. This ordinance was recently expanded to include anywhere within 500 feet of schools and day-care centers. If the ordinance is not enforced consistently, this means a person living outside in a tent might have a significantly different experience depending on which district they live in.

Mitch O’Farrell, who represents District 13 and is up for re-election, became the face of the decision to clear a big encampment at Echo Park last year. Camping sites have been targeted under the ordinance in other areas of the city, with the notable exception of District 4, represented by Nithya Raman, and District 11, represented by Mike Bonin. Both Raman and Bonin voted against the ordinance and enforcement resolutions. Neither have enforced the anti-camping law in their district.

What’s on the agenda for next term?

  • Funding for law enforcement remains a contentious issue. Some residents continue to call for cutting the LAPD budget, some call for defunding the police altogether, and others want more police hired to combat crime.
  • The housing crisis will also continue to play a major role in city politics, given the rising cost of living renters face, the uptick in people experiencing homelessness, and the upcoming end to the eviction moratorium.
  • The city is falling far short of promises to end traffic deaths by 2025, with the death toll instead rising sharply. The City Council recently called for an audit of Vision Zero, the program created to meet that ambitious goal

In the last few years, the City Council has made headlines for a string of corruption scandals. Three sitting or former councilmembers have been charged with corruption since 2020 (although allegations against Mark Ridley-Thomas date to his tenure on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors).

At the time of publication on Oct. 10, three councilmembers faced calls to resign after recordings of conversations between former City Council President Nury Martinez, Councilmembers Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo and L.A. County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera were leaked on Reddit.

The conversations include racist remarks against Councilmember Mike Bonin's young son, who is Black, and Koreatown's Oaxacan community. The conversations have also raised concerns about gerrymandering. Martinez has since resigned from the City Council.

What seats are up for election?

The following districts are on the Nov. 8 ballot: District 5, District 11, District 13, and District 15.

Note: In District 1, Eunisses Hernandez, a community organizer, defeated longtime Councilmember Gil Cedillo outright in the June primary, with 54% of the vote to Cedillo’s 46%. Cedillo has served on the City Council for nine years. 

In addition, incumbent councilmembers Bob Blumenfield (District 3), Monica Rodriguez (District 7) and Curren Price Jr. (District 9) all won reelection in the primary.

If you’re not sure which district you will be voting in, you can look it up using our interactive voting tool, Voter's Edge. Just enter your address to see all the races on your ballot.

District 5

Map shows boundaries of District 5 which includes some or all of the following neighborhoods: Bel Air-Beverly Crest, Greater Wilshire, Mid City West, Palms, Pico, South Robertson, Westside, and Westwood.
District 5
(Courtesy City of L.A.)

District 5 includes some or all of the following neighborhoods: Bel Air-Beverly Crest, Greater Wilshire, Mid City West, Palms, Pico, South Robertson, Westside, and Westwood.

The termed out councilmember, Paul Koretz, is running for L.A. City Controller.

The Candidates

Sam Yebri

Nonprofit Director/Business Owner

What he’s known for:

Yebri is a co-founder of 30 Years After, a nonprofit that promotes civic participation and leadership among the Iranian-American Jewish community. He has also served on the L.A. Civil Service Commission, the City Attorney’s Gun Violence Prevention Task Force and on L.A. County Assessor Jeff Prang’s Transition Team.

What he’s running on:

  • Climate change: Yebri says he "will fight to phase out oil drilling in Los Angeles," will protect existing parks and create new ones, seek ways to reduce vehicle traffic as part of the effort to reduce carbon emissions, and work to "advance" the transition to electric vehicles.
  • Transit: Yebri calls for a "re-design" of transit corridors so everyone can safely share the streets. He supports more dedicated bike lanes and slow streets programs.
  • Homelessness: Yebri promises to utilize Ordinance 41.18, known as the anti-camping law, to transition unhoused people into shelter and calls for a "massive infusion" of short-term shelter and housing options. He wants the city to stop using the LAPD to respond to calls regarding unhoused people and instead use social workers, mental health professionals and nonprofit groups.
  • Public safety: Yebri says he wants to increase the number of sworn LAPD officers from the current number of roughly 9,400 to 10,000. He says his plan to use crisis intervention teams to respond to non-violent incidents involving unhoused people would free up additional police to deal with more serious crime.
Website: samforla.com
Endorsements: List of endorsements (Campaign website)

More resources:

  • Read more about Sam Yebri's priorities and experience on Voter's Edge

Katy Young Yaroslavsky

Environmental lawyer 

What she’s known for:

Yaroslavsky served for six years as L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl’s senior policy director for the Environment and the Arts. She developed Measure W: The Safe, Clean Water Program, which provides money for local water supplies.

What she’s running on:

  • Climate change: Yaroslavsky says she wants to create climate resilient communities that have more green space and shade. She also says she plans to prioritize infrastructure to improve biking, public transportation and electric vehicle charging.
  • Public safety: Yaroslavsky says she supports a well-funded police department and hiring more officers. She says officers should focus on solving and preventing crimes instead of responding to homelessness and mental health calls.
  • Housing: Yaroslavsky says the city must focus on slowing the rate at which people are falling into homelessness by prioritizing rental assistance. She says she will focus on better collaboration between the county and the city.
Website: katyforla.com
Endorsements: List of endorsements (Campaign website)

More resources

  • Read more about Katy Yaroslavsky's priorities and experience on Voter's Edge

Follow The Money

District 11

Map shows boundaries of District 11 which include all or part of the following Westside neighborhoods:s, Venice, Mar Vista, Westchester, Playa del Rey, Brentwood, Del Rey, Playa Vista, Ladera, Sawtelle,and the Pacific Palisades.
District 11
(Courtesy City of L.A.)

District 11 encompasses all or part of the following Westside neighborhoods: Venice, Mar Vista, Westchester, Playa del Rey, Brentwood, Del Rey, Playa Vista, Ladera, Sawtelle, and the Pacific Palisades. The seat is open because current Councilmember Mike Bonin said that after a years-long struggle with depression, he decided not to run for reelection so he could "focus on health and wellness."

The Candidates

Erin Darling

Civil Rights attorney

What he’s known for:

Darling, who was born and raised in Venice, has been a public interest attorney for over a decade, working for nonprofit organizations like the Eviction Defense Network and Public Counsel. He also spent time as a federal public defender. He’s been operating his own legal practice in civil rights law since 2017. Darling also serves as a commissioner for the L.A. County Department of Beaches and Harbors. Darling says he’s running because of the lack of a “real progressive” in the race. 

What he’s running on:

  • Housing: He says L.A. has too often prioritized market-rate development over the preservation or building of affordable housing. He supports the “housing first” approach to homelessness and advocates for increasing renter protections, investing in rapid rehousing, and speeding up the creation of permanent supportive housing. 
  • Homelessness: With regards to L.A.’s anti-camping ordinance, he’s said that “we can’t enforce our way into solving this crisis.” 
  • Climate and environment: Darling also says he would work to shut down gas extraction and storage on the Westside, including closing down the SoCal Gas Playa del Rey methane storage facility.  
Website: erindarling11.com
Endorsements: List of endorsements (Campaign website)

More resources:

Traci Park

Municipal law attorney

Park, who’s lived in Venice since 2015, is a partner at Burke, Williams & Sorensen, which specializes in public and municipal law. Park says she was spurred to run for the city council seat after learning of plans to convert a hotel near her home into transitional housing for people experiencing homelessness without the input of nearby residents.

What she’s running on:

  • Homelessness: Park has criticized the “housing first” strategy of combating homelessness, and wants to instead increase investment in recovery housing and shared housing that focus on a culture of treatment and sobriety. She also says she would enforce L.A.’s anti-camping law, saying encampments near schools are “non-negotiable.”
  • Housing: Park has said that Venice is “too dense” for additional affordable housing developments or housing for unhoused communities.
  • Law enforcement: She supports more funding and resources for local law enforcement, including the LAPD. She also supported the June 2021 L.A. County Sheriff’s Department operation to clear out Venice encampments, calling it a “very effective partnership” between law enforcement and local service providers.
Website: tracipark.com
Endorsements: List of endorsements (Campaign website)

More resources:

Follow The Money

District 13

Map shows boundaries of District 13 which includes all or some of the following communities of Atwater Village, East Hollywood, Echo Park, Elysian Valley, Glassell Park, Historic Filipinotown, Hollywood, Larchmont Village, Little Armenia, Melrose Hill, Rampart Village, Ridgewood-Wilton, Silver Lake, Spaulding Square, St. Andrews Square, Sunset Square, Thai Town, Verdugo Village, Virgil Village, Western-Wilton, Westlake, Wilshire Center and Windsor Square.
District 13
(Courtesy City of L.A.)

District 13 includes all or some of the following communities: Atwater Village, East Hollywood, Echo Park, Elysian Valley, Glassell Park, Historic Filipinotown, Hollywood, Larchmont Village, Little Armenia, Melrose Hill, Rampart Village, Ridgewood-Wilton, Silver Lake, Spaulding Square, St. Andrews Square, Sunset Square, Thai Town, Verdugo Village, Virgil Village, Western-Wilton, Westlake, Wilshire Center and Windsor Square.

The Candidates

Mitch O'Farrell


What he’s known for:

Mitch O’Farrell is seeking his third term to represent District 13. He is known for his work on housing, including creation of the rent relief program during the pandemic, “hero pay” for grocery workers, and $1 million in grants for small businesses and theaters in his district. He has also prioritized green energy and a climate action plan. O’Farrell, who is a member of the Wyandotte Nation, is the first Native American councilmember to hold office in L.A. He spearheaded city efforts to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day.

What he’s running on:

  • Affordable housing and reducing homelessness: O’Farrell points to his record of creating 2,000 affordable housing units, which he says was the second most of any council district. He also spotlights the opening of the city’s first “Safe Sleep” site in his district which provides meals, case management, and hygiene, among other services.
  • Protecting renters: O’Farrell says he’s been a leader in protecting renters from evictions during the pandemic, and helped identify $300 million to help them stay in their homes.
  • Climate change: O’Farrell wants to continue his work to address the climate crisis facing L.A.  His green plan advocates for a zero-emission city auto fleet, robust solar infrastructure, greater water and power conservation and long-term revitalization of the L.A. River.  He is Chair of the Council’s committee on Energy, Climate Change and Environmental Justice.  

More resources:

  • Read more about Mitch O'Farrell's priorities and experience on Voter's Edge

Hugo Soto-Martinez

Union organizer 

What he’s known for:

Hugo Soto-Martinez is a union leader with UNITE HERE Local 11. His 15 years of union leadership began while he attended UC Irvine. He worked as a server at a non-union hotel where he successfully led a union organizing drive.

What he’s running on:

  • Homelessness and housing: Soto-Martinez pledges to end unhoused sweeps. He wants to build networks of round-the-clock drop-in centers that provide physical and mental healthcare, addiction and caseworker services for the unhoused. He pledges in his first term to create housing essential workers can afford and hire a housing deputy to address the district’s tenant crisis.
  • Climate crisis: Soto-Martinez wants to take action to cap and clean urban oil wells in the district. He says he would create 10,000 climate union jobs by 2026 by prioritizing city, state and federal funds.
  • Public safety: Soto-Martinez wants to replace armed officers on non-violent calls with mental health crisis teams. He says he would advocate for an unarmed traffic enforcement division to pursue low level moving violations, among other things, and invest in social programs to reduce the crime rate. 
Website: hugo2022.com
Endorsements: List of endorsements (Campaign website)

More resources:

  • Read more about Hugo-Soto Martinez's priorities and experience on Voter's Edge

Follow The Money

District 15

Map shows boundaries of District 15 which includes all or part of the following neighborhoods: Watts, San Pedro, Harbor Gateway, Harbor City, Wilmington.
District 15
(Courtesy City of L.A.)

District 15 encompasses all or part of the following neighborhoods: Watts, San Pedro, Harbor Gateway, Harbor City, Wilmington. Current Councilmember Joe Buscaino decided not to run for a third and final term in order to run for L.A. mayor, leaving the seat open. Buscaino has pushed for anti-camping measures to address homelessness in the district, but housing remains a key issue in the race.

The Port of Los Angeles is in the district and its environmental effects are also one of the district’s key issues. The candidates have all expressed concerns over the port’s effect on pollution and water quality.

The Candidates

Tim McOsker


What he’s known for:

McOsker is the CEO of AltaSea, a non-profit that focuses on ocean sustainability. He has also served as Chief of Staff for former L.A. Mayor James K. Hahn and as a lobbyist for the LAPD union.

What he’s running on:

  • Housing: McOsker says the city needs to focus on creating immediate shelter and calls for embracing “creative housing solutions” like container construction, tiny homes, and adaptive reuse.
  • Public safety: McOsker says the city needs to crackdown on illegal guns and better regulate gun shows. He also says he wants to promote trust between residents and the LAPD.
  • Economy: McOsker says the city needs to create more union jobs that provide a pathway to the middle-class.
  • Climate change: McOsker says he wants to prioritize the communities hardest hit by climate change and ensure clean water and air for all Angelenos. He also says the district needs to advance green technology while also retraining workers.
Website: timmcosker.com
Endorsements: List of endorsements (Campaign website)

More resources:

  • Read more about Tim McOsker's priorities and experience on Voter's Edge

Danielle Sandoval


What she’s known for:

Sandoval is the former president of the Harbor City Neighborhood Council. She’s been active in union work, previously serving as treasurer and president for the ILWU Federated Auxiliary 8. The L.A. Times rescinded its endorsement of Sandoval on Oct. 11, 2022, based on reporting that four of her former employees had filed wage theft claims against her.

What she’s running on:

  • Environment: Sandoval says the city should invest in clean vehicle technology and expanding green spaces. She also calls for educating the community about the effects of fracking, drilling and diesel pollution.
  • Housing: Sandoval says she wants to create a program to help renters with security deposits, first month’s rent and application fees. She also calls for the city to expand on mental health and crisis support teams to help people experiencing homelessness.
  • Public safety: Sandoval says the city needs to address possible underlying causes for crime, including unemployment. She calls for training law enforcement in de-escalation tactics.
  • Economy: Sandoval says there needs to be an increase in the availability and accessibility of workforce development programs. She says she also wants to create more incentives and reduce red tape for film and television production in the city.
Website: sandoval4la.com
Endorsements: List of endorsements (Campaign website)

More resources:

  • Read more about Danielle Sandoval's priorities and experience on Voter's Edge

Follow The Money

Updated October 12, 2022 at 10:37 AM PDT
This story was updated on Oct. 12, 2022, to add new reporting about candidate Danielle Sandoval.
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