The general manager of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment announced plans Friday to run for the 13th District City Council seat.

BongHwan Kim filed the necessary paperwork with the City Ethics Commission, allowing him to start raising money for the race to replace City Councilmember Eric Garcetti, who is termed out of the seat and is running for mayor.

BongHwan Kim

The district includes the neighborhoods of Echo Park, Silver Lake, East Hollywood, Hollywood and Atwater Village.

Kim joins a crowded field of potential candidates, including Mitch O’Farrell, a senior Garcetti adviser; actor, businessman and community activist Scott Crawford; Los Angeles Fire Department Deputy Chief Emile Mack; Echo Park Neighborhood Council President Jose Sigala; East Hollywood Neighborhood Council member Sam Kbushyan; attorney and former Mayor Richard Riordan staffer Josh Post; small business owner Reuben Martinez; and writer and former film editor Thomas Marshall Penick.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s deputy chief of staff, Matt Szabo, and Sen. Kevin De Leon, (D-Los Angeles) are considering running for the seat but have not formally entered the race. Board of Public Works Commissioner John Choi is also rumored to be considering a run.

Kim, who became Department of Neighborhood Empowerment assistant general manager in 2007 and general manager in November, said he would use the seat to improve civic engagement and what he called participatory democracy.

“Government needs to do a better job of making sure that neighborhoods are more empowered,” Kim said. “Working with neighborhoods is going to be one of the few ways that government is going to be able to survive these tough economic times, and I’m uniquely qualified to do that.”

Kim touted his credentials as the manager of an entire city department and its budget. Kim oversees the city’s 90 Neighborhood Councils.

If elected, Kim said he would take a two-pronged approach to the citywide budget crisis, looking for places to cut expenses and ways to raise revenue, such as getting insurance companies to pay for more Los Angeles Fire Department paramedic responses.

He said he would push for more public-private partnerships, though Kim said he is also concerned about threats to city unions.

“I think we need a stronger public sector. We don’t need a bigger government. We need a smarter government,” he said.

Kim, who earned a public administration degree from Harvard University, also touted his role in community building. He was a mediator between the black and Korean American communities in the wake of the 1992 riots.

Kim and Mack, both Korean Americans, raise the prospect of returning an Asian American to the City Council for the first time since 1993, when Michael Woo, now a planning commissioner, left the council.

Their campaigns are likely to be bolstered by the recent emergence of a strengthened Korean American political activist community. A number of Korean American organizations coalesced during the city’s contentious redistricting process, which ignored the group’s call for Koreatown to be consolidated in one council district.

Attorney Jane Oak, who actively protested the redistricting process, said Korean American groups are set to begin a large voter registration drive to elect a Korean American to the council.

“We’re not done with trying to push people to become active,” Oak said.

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  1. Kim comes with a history of failure and incompetence. In a dysfunctional city, Kim headed one of the most inept departments, DONE, which oversaw the Neighborhood Councils.

    His platform, as set for this this article, ignores all the realities of CD #13 — a base of corruption which has been largely responsible for the City’s being insolvent. So he thinks a few more neighbors serving on NC’s will solve the problems? Look at Central Hollywood NC? What a farce. It’s no more than a rubber stamp for the developers who have been destroying Hollywood.

    Councilmembers pay no attention to the NC’s unless the NC passes a resolution that the Councilmember wants. In the council discussion of the Hollywood Community Plan [HCP], neither Garcetti nor LaBonge mentioned that HUNC [Hollywood United NC] twice voted to REJECT the HCP and just like Garceti, Kim is completely silent on the rape of Hollywood.

    From the get-go, Kim has shown that is is incompetent and clueless and most likely a stooge for the 1%.

  2. Current elected officials are not qualified to be the next Mayor of LA!
    Who is qualified to be the next mayor of Los Angeles 2013?
    The current elected officials at LA City Hall who are running, do not qualify to be the Mayor of LA. Their past poor performance and their contribution to the current state of affairs are reprehensible. They do not deserve to be elected again for any position in LA City Hall and especially to the position of Mayor of LA.
    I hope and trust that the people of LA are not as gullible as the current elected officials presume.
    It is time for the voters of LA to elect a person who cares about the people of this great city of Los Angeles, a city with a population of about 4 million people and 281 square miles. The current elected officials at city hall have abused their position; they have failed the people of Los Angeles.
    The current elected officials at LA city hall should get a verbal lynching for their performance. The City of Los Angeles is in its worst condition in this century. The cause of this despicable condition is the product of the current administration.
    It is time to elect officials who truly care about the people and the city of LA. Officials who exercise their elected position for the good of the people of LA, not what is in it for them?
    When we support current elected officials in their quest to become the Mayor of Los Angeles, we consent to their poor performance and induce them to continue to destroy our city.
    We must change the status quo of business as usual; the current administration has abused its position and trust. Otherwise we as the people of LA will pay a heavy price for such negligence.
    This is the message we should be sending to people who seek public office. A candidate must have honesty and integrity as a primary character trait and above all the public’s trust.
    YJ Draiman
    A question to the people of Los Angeles
    Do you have confidence in your current elected officials in Los Angeles City Hall?
    Are they doing a good job?
    No, why?
    Yes, why?
    Who is qualified to be the mayor of Los Angeles 2013?
    Where there is discord, the mayor will bring harmony. Where there is error, the mayor will bring truth. Where there is doubt, the mayor will bring faith. And where there is despair, the mayor will bring hope. The mayor will unite the city and promote economic prosperity successfully. A person who can do these things is the one qualified to be the mayor of Los Angeles in 2013.