LOS ANGELES () — Los Angeles City Councilwoman Nithya Raman is seeking reelection, but thanks to redistricting that cost Raman roughly 40% of her old district — more than any other councilmember — the district looks much different than it did when Raman was voted into City Hall.
“My team has gone out and worked really hard to serve our new constituents and I believe we have served them as effectively as we possibly can. As effectively as we were serving the old district. but, for any race, these are not voters who got the chance to know me during the last campaign. During this race, it’s like I’m running for the first time again,” said Raman.
Raman has said she was targeted in the redistricting process as evidenced by the leaked audio scandal at Los Angeles City Hall, where then-Council President Nury Martinez resigned. But one of her current opponents, Deputy City Attorney Ethan Weaver, disagrees.
“This idea that someone is targeted is a bit overblown. Any time the maps change, districts change. there’s going to be winners and losers, it’s just part of the game. From Los Feliz all the way to Encino, every community has very different needs. But, every community is united by one thread. They feel ignored by city hall, ignored by their leadership and their day to day problems aren’t being solved. I come from a community first approach where it starts with the community and you work up from there,” said Weaver.
Raman, who calls herself a pragmatic progressive, is up against the more moderate democrat Weaver and another Democrat, Lev Baronian, who serves on the Sherman Oaks neighborhood council and is a former NASA engineer.
“Her office, in my opinion and those of my neighbors: very unresponsive. Sometimes you can’t get ahold of anyone in her office. Being on the neighborhood council, she’s absent there. She’s not there and doesn’t send a representative from her office to most of the meetings we hold,” said Baronian.
The top two finishers on March 5 will move on to the runoff election in November unless one candidate gets over 50% of the vote. All signs show a close race with a lot of money being spent by the union supporting LAPD officers and groups supporting real estate entities and landlords, all supporting Weaver.
“Whenever I get a piece of mail from a candidate, I flip that piece of mail over and look at who paid for it. The question I always want to ask about every candidate is, is this candidate supported by the people, or are they supported by the people who want to profit off of our city. And, I think in this race the answer is very clear. The people who have been behind me and the people seeking to profit of our city, corporate landlords, big real estate are supporting my opponent,” said Raman.
Raman serves as the chair of the Housing and Homelessness Committee and has been endorsed by Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, who campaigned for Raman over the weekend.
All the candidates say the number one issue is homelessness, but have different ideas on how to address the crisis. Weaver says the city keeps spending money on a housing first model, but more money should go towards mental health treatment.
“A lot of the people we’re putting into permanent supportive housing are deeply mentally ill and really need mental health beds as opposed to permanent housing. I’ve seen some of these permanent housing units housing the mentally ill and the inside of these units look just like encampments. Until we start putting greater emphasis on the mental health component, we’re just moving pieces around at a very high cost,” said Weaver.
Lev Baronian points to the income gap as a cause of homelessness and says his opponents aren’t spending enough time talking about that.
“One of the key things I want to look at is increased programs for vocational training for Angelenos. That starts with programs for teens. The teens of today are the adults in a few years and they’re going to be experiencing hardships in a few years in this increasingly expensive city if they don’t have skills to compete,” said Baronian.
Raman says the data shows crime and homeless encampments have gone down in CD4 during her time in office, but says building up a new system takes time. All the candidates including the incumbent agree that City Hall moves too slow, but weaver and Baronian believe the patience of those who live in CD4 has run out.