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To fill the open seat in City Council District 10, we recommend a familiar face in Los Angeles government: Mark Ridley-Thomas.
As we said when we endorsed him in the primary, voters would have a hard time finding another candidate with Ridley-Thomas’ experience and knowledge or his long list of accomplishments. His experience is even more on point now — he’s spent his career focused on civil rights, police accountability and criminal justice reform. His perspective will be especially helpful as the City Council grapples with how to reimagine policing in L.A.
Ridley-Thomas has also been on the front lines of L.A.’s homeless crisis. He helped lead the effort for Measure H, the sales tax hike to fund homeless services. He’s worked to address the factors that fuel homelessness, from weak tenant protections and the lack of affordable housing to criminal records that make it harder for people to get their lives back on track.
There are drawbacks to Ridley-Thomas. He is very much part of the political establishment, as is the district's current councilman, Herb Wesson, who is termed out. Ridley-Thomas previously served two terms on the City Council, and thus, under L.A. law, may serve only one more four-year term. That isn’t a long time to make big changes in the district, though Ridley-Thomas is uniquely able to hit the ground running if elected. He has said he intends to run for mayor in 2022, which could be a distraction. He has made questionable ethical decisions, most notably when he funneled $100,000 from a campaign fund to USC, which then hired his son as professor.
Ridley-Thomas is running against Grace Yoo, a lawyer, former executive director of the Korean American Coalition and longtime community activist. Yoo ran against Wesson in 2015 and she later opposed his effort to put a homeless shelter in Koreatown, which delayed much-needed housing and services for the community. Yoo has a watchdog mentality and would bring a contrarian streak to the City Council, which could be helpful in a body that prefers business as usual.
But at this time, we think Council District 10 and the city as a whole would benefit from Ridley-Thomas’ experience and focus on systemic reform.