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At Election Night Parties, City Council Candidates And Their Supporters Wait On Future Of District 13

A panoramic view of Los Angeles taken from Echo Park. A skyline of downtown is in the distance, while a large lake is in the foreground. It is sunset.
Echo Park Lake
(Adoramassey, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0)
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As of Wednesday afternoon, labor organizer Hugo Soto-Martinez leads incumbent Mitch O’Farrell in a tight race to represent Los Angeles’ 13th council district.

Here's L.A. County's schedule for the release of new vote totals
  • Estimated time of the following releases is between 4- 5 p.m.

  • Tue, Nov. 22 | Fri, Nov. 25 | Tue, Nov. 29 |Fri, Dec. 2

  • And if needed, Monday, Dec. 5

  • The vote count as of Nov. 18:

    • 2,441,323 ballots have been processed and counted
    • 80% of those were mail-in ballots
    • 20% voted in person
  • Still to be counted:

    • Vote by Mail ballots: 22,200
    • Conditional Voter Registration ballots: 3,000
    • Provisional ballots: 50

Whether residents said they supported O’Farrell or Soto-Martinez, they identified the same key issues, including homelessness and affordable housing.

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Samuel Muston cast his ballot across the street from Echo Park Lake, where nearly 200 unhoused people were cleared from an encampment in 2021. Muston visits the area often and particularly enjoys the swan boat rides and people watching.

“I think it's so important for the citizens to enjoy it as like, the beauty that it is,” Muston, a nearby resident, said. “It was really straying away from that.”

Muston said he respected how O’Farrell handled the park’s clean-up.

I want change. Everything.

— Iris Arias, East Hollywood resident

Jenny Moratay stopped to talk to Soto-Martinez, who was campaigning nearby before voting.

“My everyday life is very important. Obviously, the federal elections are very important. But the local elections for me have an everyday impact,” Morataya said. She’s encouraged by Soto-Martinez’s support for climate policy and transit infrastructure.

Iris Arias was one of the last people to vote at Ramona Elementary school in East Hollywood.

“I want change,” she said. When LAist asked for details, the mom of a 10- and 4-year-old said, “everything.”

A view of Mitch O'Farrell, a man with a light skin tone, from the chest up while he's in a room with a blue hue. He's looking off to the side.
Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell at his election night event at The Vermont in Hollywood, Calif. on Tuesday, November 8, 2022.
(Mariana Dale

O’Farrell gathered supporters Tuesday night at an East Hollywood event venue washed in purple-blue lights and covered in dozens of campaign signs, even in the restroom. He wore a suit with a lapel pin representing his membership in the Wyandotte Nation.

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Soto-Martinez supporters huddled under a white tent on the patio of Atwater Village’s Club Tee Gee. When the party was ushered off the patio at 10:30 p.m., Soto-Martinez stood in the rain wearing a Unite HERE Local 11 windbreaker to thank departing supporters.

Hugo Soto-Martinez, who's a man with a medium skin tone wearing a rain jacket with a union logo, stands outside near a fence talking to two people.
Five newcomers will be sworn in as L.A.'s newest city council members next month. Clockwise: Hugo Soto-Martinez; Eunisses Hernandez, Traci Park, Katy Young-Yaroslavsky; Tim McOsker.
(Josie Huang/LAist

“It doesn't matter which issue it is, whether it's homelessness, housing, public safety, the environment, or transit issues, we simply are not doing enough,” Soto-Martinez said.

O’Farrell, a two-term council member, argued he has done plenty, from housing people to creating pandemic relief programs in a district that includes East Hollywood, Silver Lake, and Historic Filipinotown.

“It's not rocket science. It's hard. It takes daily work,” O’Farrell said. “It's a slog, but if we could do this in every council district, then it could be successful for the rest of the city.”

Whoever is elected to the seat will have to rebuild trust within the council and with Angelenos after recordings released last month revealed conversations between then-City Council President Nury Martinez, Council members Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo and L.A. County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera that included racist remarks and a discussion about how to cement political power.

“People are sick and tired of backroom dealing, people carving up the city for their own selfish interest,” Soto-Martinez said. “That's the old way of doing things and we're trying to usher in a new way of doing politics.”

Martinez resigned her seat on the council last month. Cedillo and de León have refused to step down, but haven’t been back to any council meetings once protesters began interrupting meetings following the tapes’ release. The other members of the council voted to censure de León and Cedillo late last month.

O’Farrell said the council moves forward by getting to work, pointing to Tuesday’s council meeting.

“We can't let the refusal of a couple of council members to resign stop us from doing our business,” he said, giving as an example $2 million approved for grants to renters in his districtthat day.