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Civics & Democracy

In Race To Replace LA Councilmember Nury Martinez, Padilla Leads, 3 Others Vie For Second Spot

A seven-photo grid showing headshots of the candidates for Council District 6. From top left to right: Marisa Alcaraz, Rose Grigoryan, Isaac Kim, Imelda Padilla. From bottom left to right: Marco Santana, Antoinette Scully and Douglas Sierra.
The candidates. From top left to right: Marisa Alcaraz, Rose Grigoryan, Isaac Kim, Imelda Padilla. From bottom left to right: Marco Santana, Antoinette Scully and Douglas Sierra.
(Images courtesy of candidates' respective campaigns)
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Initial returns show Imelda Padilla leads the field and three other candidates are vying for second place in the special election to replace former Los Angeles City Councilmember Nury Martinez in the San Fernando Valley.

Because no candidate appears close to winning a majority of the votes in Tuesday's election for Council District 6, the top two finishers will likely meet in a June 27 runoff.

Padilla is leading with 25.6% of the vote. Marisa Alcaraz is in second with 19.2%, Rose Grigoryan is third with 18%, and Marco Santana is in fourth place with 17.5%. Alcaraz leads Grigoryan by just 113 votes, and Santana by 155 votes.

Of the remaining candidates on the ballot, Isaac Kim has 11.5% of the vote, Antoinette Scully has 5.5%, and Douglas Sierra has 2.7%.

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As of Tuesday night, officials had tallied a bit more than 9,000 votes, less than 8% of the more than 118,000 ballots sent to District 6 voters.

However, "there are still many outstanding ballots to be processed and counted," County Registrar Dean Logan's office said in a statement. Those include conditional voter registration ballots, provisional ballots, and mail-in ballots returned by election day. The registrar said the next vote update will be on Friday.

The special election was called to replace Martinez, who resigned in October after she was heard on a secret audio recording making racist, homophobic and anti-indigenous remarks. District 6 stretches nearly 20 miles from Sun Valley west to Lake Balboa. It includes the Sun Valley Power Plant and Van Nuys Airport.

Here are the leading candidates:

Imelda Padilla

Padilla is a Sun Valley resident who has worked in community engagement with the L.A. County’s Women and Girls Initiative, the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy and environmental justice organization Pacoima Beautiful. She is president of the L.A. Valley College Foundation board.

In 2016, Padilla unsuccessfully ran for a seat on the L.A. Unified School District board. She also spent over a year as a field deputy for Martinez’s council office.

She supports L.A.’s anti-camping ordinance 41.18 aimed at unhoused people. On her campaign website, Padilla says she also wants “to address the unintended consequences of municipal code 85.02,” which prohibits the use of vehicles as dwellings on residential streets. (More than 500 people live in more than 400 RVs and vans in the district, according to the L.A. Homeless Services Authority.) Padilla says that law has “pushed RV’s into our industrial corridors causing a lack of parking for business owners, customers and workers.” She says it’s “incredibly unacceptable that we have allowed as a city for these individuals to park and live in the regions with the worst air-quality.”

Padilla supports increasing the number of LAPD officers, and says she would use discretionary funds for sanitation trucks dedicated to District 6 to make bulky item pickup more efficient.

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Padilla has been endorsed by U.S. Rep. Tony Cardenas, City Councilmember Monica Rodriguez, the Central City Association of Los Angeles, and East Area Progressive Democrats.

Through March 29, Padilla raised about $98,000 — the most of any candidate. She received more than $150,000 in city matching funds.

To qualify for city matching funds, a candidate is not allowed to loan their campaign more than $37,000, must raise at least $5 from 100 individuals who live in the council district, and receive a minimum cumulative threshold of contributions from individuals who reside in the city — in this election that was $11,400.

Padilla was also helped by about $90,000 in independent expenditures on her behalf by, among others, the American Beverage Association.

Marisa Alcaraz

Alcaraz is a Van Nuys resident and the environmental policy director and deputy chief of staff to City Councilmember Curren Price. Prior to joining Price’s staff in 2012, Alcaraz developed policy on business, economic development, arts and culture, health, and poverty for Richard Alarcón when he served on the city council from 2009-13.

She supports 41.18, L.A.’s anti-camping ordinance, while saying it should only be used as a last resort, and that outreach and street engagement should come first.

Alcaraz supports hiring more LAPD officers, and supports expanding the Quieter Nights Program, which calls for the decrease of flights at night.

Alcaraz was endorsed by Councilmember Price, Councilmember Heather Hutt, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 770, Unite HERE Local 11, and the Los Angeles Sentinel newspaper. She has raised about $161,000. Alcaraz did not qualify for city matching funds.

Alcaraz was helped by more than $110,000 in independent expenditures, including by the UFCW Local 770.

Rose Grigoryan

After immigrating to the U.S. from Armenia in 2012, Grigoryan worked at US Armenia, a local TV station, and then for seven years at ARTN-Shant, a national Armenian TV network. She holds a master's degree in philosophy and logic, according to her campaign website.

Grigoryan supports 41.18, the city’s anti-camping law, but says it should be enforced “compassionately.” She also says that she would use the office to fight the fentanyl crisis by creating drug education programs for students from kindergarten through high school.  Grigoryan says she wants more accessible and affordable public transit in District 6, including more bus stops.She lists no endorsements on her campaign website.

Grigoryan raised about $60,000 for her campaign. She did not qualify for city matching funds.

Marco Santana

Santana is a Van Nuys resident and director of engagement at LA Family Housing, a nonprofit that provides housing and supportive services to unhoused people. He is also a board member for the Mid-Valley YMCA and ICON CDC, a nonprofit that helps with small business development.

Santana has been vice president of the San Fernando Valley Young Democrats and served on the staffs of U.S. Rep. Tony Cárdenas and former State Sen. Bob Hertzberg.

Santana wants to repeal 41.18, the city’s anti-camping law. With regard to people living in RV’s and vans, he vows on his campaign website to work with the community to identify “interim sites for Safe Parking programs and overnight [RV] parking.” He says he wants to expand a pilot program that finds housing for people while getting rid of their RV’s.

Santana supports reallocating LAPD funding for mental health professionals to do outreach to unhoused communities, and says he would assign staff to communities across the district to follow up with city departments to address illegal dumping.

Santana has been endorsed by L.A. City Councilmember Nithya Raman, The Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley, the Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters, Streets for All and the L.A. Times. He has raised about $89,000 and received more than $156,000 in matching funds.

The political action committee of the L.A. Police Protective League, which represents rank-and-file LAPD officers, spent more than $70,000 on ads opposing Santana, citing his desire to repeal the anti-camping law. The league has not endorsed a candidate in the race.

There are 15 members of the L.A. City Council. Each represents more than 260,000 people and wields enormous power over such issues as development, street services, and homelessness in their district.

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