Board of Public Works Commissioner John Choi is poised to enter the crowded field of candidates vying for Eric Garcetti’s 13th District City Council seat in March 2013.

Garcetti is termed out of office and is running for mayor.

John Choi (Photo by Jimmy Tokeshi)

Choi, who was appointed to the board by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, announced his intent to enter the race in a resignation letter to the mayor on Friday. Choi will resign from the Public Works board on Wednesday.

Choi would be the 12th person to file paperwork to raise money, and the fourth Asian American to run for the seat. Fellow Korean Americans BongHwan Kim, general manager of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, and Emile Mack, a 32-year veteran Los Angeles firefighter, have announced plans to run, as has Alexander Cruz De Ocampo, a Filipino American who works at the Saban Family Foundation.

Choi, De Ocampo, Kim and Mack are likely to be bolstered by a strengthened Korean American political activist network seeking to elect an Asian American to a City Council seat. A number of Korean American organizations coalesced in the wake of the city’s contentious redistricting process, which ignored the group’s call for Koreatown to be consolidated in one city council district.

The executive director of the Korean American Coalition, who has led much of the fight against the redistricting process, said that while she is happy that voters will be able to choose an Asian American candidate, “there is a little sadness that there are four,” which could split the vote.

“I am concerned that the chances of electing an Asian American candidate would be higher without four highly qualified individuals,” Grace Yoo said.

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

The crowded field of potential candidates also includes Mitch O’Farrell, a senior Garcetti adviser; actor, businessman and community activist Scott Crawford; Echo Park Neighborhood Council President Jose Sigala; East Hollywood Neighborhood Council member Sam Kbushyan; attorney Josh Post, a former staffer in the administration of former Mayor Richard Riordan; small business owner Reuben Martinez; and writer and former film editor Thomas Marshall Penick.

Villaraigosa’s deputy chief of staff, Matt Szabo, and Sen. Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) are considering running for the open council seat but have not decided or filed the necessary paperwork to raise money.

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