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Ex-Councilmember Martinez Opposed Healthy Streets LA Plan. Candidates To Replace Her Say She Was Wrong

A screenshot of the YouTube page introducing six political candidates. A logo for the organization Streets for All is at the top left, next to the date Thursday, February 2, 2023. Below it is a large headline that reads CD6 Candidate Mobility Debate! Six headshots are below it showing each of the candidates. From left, Marisa Alcaraz, Isaac Kim, Imelda Padilla, Marco Santana, Antoinette Scully, Douglas Sierra.
Six candidates for the Los Angeles City Council's District 6 participated in an online debate over transportation issues on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023.
(Screenshot from Streets for All YouTube page)
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Six of the seven candidates to replace disgraced L.A. City Councilmember Nury Martinez participated Thursday in a forum focused on transportation and mobility. It was the first time the candidates had appeared together in the campaign.

Martinez resigned in October amid outrage over her racist, homophobic and anti-Indigenous remarks during a secretly recorded conversation.

Council District 6 sits in the San Fernando Valley, stretching from Sun Valley west past the 405 Freeway to Lake Balboa. One of 15 council districts, it includes parts of Arleta, North Hollywood, North Hills, Panorama City, Van Nuys, and Sun Valley. You can read more about the candidates here.

Nobody mentioned Martinez by name, but there were subtle references to the scandal.

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“The time is now to reset and make meaningful changes,” said Isaac Kim, who runs an online men’s grooming and skin care business. “Let’s regain the trust of our community and use local government for the good of all people in our district and the city.”

“It's time we have a leader that will step up and make sure that our constituents in Council District 6 and the city of Los Angeles not only survive but thrive,” said Marco Santana, who is director of engagement at LA Family Housing.

The forum covered a wide range of issues from adding protected bike lanes to improving public transportation to reducing traffic-related deaths. Each candidate expressed support for making the district less car-centric.

“You shouldn’t have to feel like you need a car to get around L.A.,” said Antoinette Scully, a national organizer for the Unitarian Universalist Women’s Federation. “We need to expand public transit in ways that are equitable for everyone.”

'I Honestly Found It Refreshing'

Streets For All sponsored the forum. Its founder, Michael Schneider, said he was impressed by the candidates’ progressive bent.

“I honestly found it refreshing,” Schneider said. “It made me feel like we’re getting somewhere in this city.” He noted all those running expressed support for the group’s Healthy Streets LA initiative to improve various forms of transit, something former councilmember Martinez opposed.

“Nury Martinez led the fight to block adoption of Healthy Streets LA at city council last year,” Schneider said. “So to hear all the candidates publicly commit to supporting it — that’s literally night and day from who used to sit in that seat.”

The group has qualified the measure for next year’s ballot. It would require the city to add bus, bike and pedestrian improvements promised in its Mobility Plan 2035. The city has completed work on only 3% of 3,137 miles planned for improvements, according to Streets For All.

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Streets for All displayed a slide during the forum that said out of a total of 44 miles of planned bike lanes for different parts of the district, barely six miles have been set up.

L.A. also has performed poorly when it comes to reducing traffic-related deaths. There were 312 such fatalities citywide in 2022, more than the year before. Former Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Vision Zero plan sought to eliminate traffic-related deaths by 2025.

Big projects are headed for parts of the district, including the East Valley Light Rail Line, running along Van Nuys Blvd. between Van Nuys and San Fernando. Construction is set to start this year and be completed in 2028.

“I can assure you I am going to put a lot of attention to Van Nuys Blvd. as well as the improvements that are going to be made on Sepulveda Blvd,” said Imelda Padilla, whose work as a community organizer has included a stint with the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy.

Among the candidates, there is only one City Hall insider. Marisa Alcaraz is environmental policy director and deputy chief of staff to City Councilmember Curren Price.

“I have a track record. I have experience,” she said. “I just really want to bring that experience, that knowledge to CD6,” where Alcaraz said she grew up.

The rest appeared to want to keep City Hall at arm's length.

“I’m running for city council because I have new ideas, not because I have City Hall political experience,” said Douglas Sierra, who recently told LAist that he has worked as educational services coordinator and facilities coordinator for the nonprofit A Place Called Home.

Another candidate, Rose Grigoryan, responded to the group’s invitation too late to be included in the forum, according to Schneider. Grigoryan previously worked at US Armenia, a local TV station, and then for more than seven years at ARTN-Shant, a national Armenian TV network.

Rev. James Thomas, pastor of Living Word Community Church in Chatsworth and president of the San Fernando Valley chapter of the NAACP, did not submit enough verified signatures to qualify for the ballot, but he has announced he will run a write-in campaign.

LAist is planning listening sessions for residents of L.A. City Council District 6 ahead of the the 2023 special election. Tell us what issues matter to you, and we'll be in touch. (Click here to find out if you live in CD-6.)

LA District 6 residents: Tell us what issues matter to you.

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