David Ryu at his polling place on Election Day.
David Ryu at his polling place on Election Day.

Rafu Wire and Staff Reports

Termed-out City Councilmember Tom LaBonge’s former chief of staff topped a field of 14 candidates in a bid to replace him and she will advance to a May runoff election, but it was unclear Wednesday who she will face as thousands of ballots have yet to be counted.

Carolyn Ramsay led the pack of hopefuls in the 4th District Los Angeles city balloting Tuesday. First elected in 2001, LaBonge has been termed out. He endorsed Ramsay.

Unofficial results released by the City Clerk’s Office showed David Ryu, a director at the Kedren Acute Psychiatric Hospital and Community Health Center, in second place so far and therefore possibly earning a spot in the May 19 runoff.

But Ryu still could find himself excluded from the runoff as initial third-place finisher Tomas O’Grady, a nonprofit director, was just 61 votes behind Ryu.

As of Wednesday morning, the top three were Ramsay with 2,911 votes (15.32 percent), Ryu with 2,776 (14.61 percent) and O’Grady with 2,715 (14.29 percent).

They were followed by Wally Knox (2,086, 10.98 percent), Teddy Davis (2,079, 10.94 percent), Steve Veres (1,886, 9.93 percent), Sheila Irani (1,443, 7.59 percent), Joan Pelico (1,093, 5.75 percent), Jay Beeber (862, 4.53 percent), Rostom “Ross” Sarkissian (440, 2.31 percent), Tara Bannister (237, 1.24 percent), Mike Schaefer (227, 1.19 percent), Fred Mariscal (144, 0.75 percent) and Step Jones (92, 0.48 percent).

The City Clerk’s Office reported that even though most votes have been counted, another 43,814 remain to be tallied including provisional ballots, vote-by-mail ballots turned in on election day at the polls, ballots received by mail this week and ballots with snags such as missing information or illegibility.

With 1.8 million registered voters in Los Angeles and a total of 157,577 ballots tallied by the City Clerk’s Office on Tuesday, the voter turnout for the city election now sits at 8.6 percent. The voter turnout percentage will be higher in the certified numbers.

Ryu was the sole Asian American in the 4th District race and would become the only one on the City Council if he is in the runoff and then is ultimately elected. There has not been an Asian American council member since Michael Woo, who served from 1985 to 1993.

In a message to his supporters, Ryu said, “There are still very many ballots to be counted, but I am humbled by the support that I have received in every neighborhood across this diverse district. Last night, we showed that the best way to fix a City Hall that wasn’t listening was to run for office, and make the city listen.

“Every day I’m inspired by my volunteers that have driven this campaign, and their energy builds me up. In the runoff, we’ll run the same way we did for the primary — one voter and one vote at a time. And if I’m chosen to serve on the City Council, I’ll govern the exact same way I ran the campaign: by listening to the community first.”

The candidates are seeking to represent a district that includes suburban communities in the San Fernando Valley as well as neighborhoods surrounding Griffith Park, Miracle Mile and Hollywood.

Ryu campaigned on a platform of improving communication between the city and residents and says he supports raising the minimum wage and gradually eliminating the gross receipts tax.

Ramsay is looking to succeed her former boss. She touts 15 years of experience working on issues affecting the district, initially as a journalist and environmental activist, then as a member of LaBonge’s staff for about nine years.

O’Grady is the director of the nonprofit organization EnrichLA, which works with schools to build edible gardens. He said his priorities include environmental and financial sustainability. He also wants to focus on the issues of development and transportation.

Herb Wesson, who represents the 10th Council District and was first elected in 2005, cruised to victory over Koreatown activist Grace Yoo, who last clashed with the powerful council president during contentious proceedings to redraw district lines in the Koreatown area.

The former Assembly speaker had 7,022 votes (63.45) to Yoo’s 3,266 (29.51) as of Wednesday morning. Delaney “Doc” Smith was a distant third with 778 (7.03 percent).

During the campaign, Yoo said, “District 10 needs a representative who understands diversity is a strength that empowers communities to prosper and grow. Our district deserves a representative who understands that regardless of your origin or what language you speak at home, everyone deserves access to better jobs and a better quality of life for their families.”

City Councilmember Jose Huizar fended off a spirited challenge from former Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina to retain his 14th District seat, headlining a winning night for council incumbents.

“We did it!” Huizar shouted at his election-night party Tuesday night at Salesian High School, drawing cheers from the crowd.

As of Wednesday morning, Huizar had 11,081 votes (65.75 percent) to Molina’s 4,033 (23.93 percent). There were three other challengers: Nadine Momoyo Diaz (742, 4.40 percent), Mario Chavez (612, 3.63 percent), and John O’Neill (385, 2.28 percent).

Diaz said in a message to her supporters, “I want to thank each of you for your support during my first campaign for L.A. City Council District 14. To all who voted, made phone calls, attended candidate forums, spoke to your neighbors, friends and family, donated, put up a yard sign, helped in any way, brought food — every action counted and made a huge difference. The results could not have been achieved without you for this was a true community effort.

“Voters were pleased to have another option on the ballot and that is why they voted on Election Day … I look forward to continuing our discussions and working together in future endeavors in our district.

“The support I felt on Election Day was incredible and I owe it to you. If I can ever be of assistance, please allow me the opportunity to do so.

“Let’s continue advocating for the people who represent the district, the city, the state and the nation.”

Huizar’s battle with Molina — billed as a heavyweight bout between two Eastside political veterans — turned out to be a largely one-sided affair. Huizar grabbed a commanding lead when vote-by-mail ballots were tallied, and he never looked back.

Molina was the best known of the four challengers attempting to unseat Huizar, who will return for his third and final term representing the district that stretches from Boyle Heights to downtown Los Angeles, including Little Tokyo.

Molina was elected to the State Assembly in 1982 and the Los Angeles City Council in 1987. She was elected in 1991 to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, where she served five terms until she was forced to vacate her seat in 2014 due to term limits. In each job, she claimed the distinction of being the first Latina to join the body.

Huizar — whose most recent term was marred by sexual harassment allegations — insisted the 14th District has seen improvements thanks to his efforts to secure funding for graffiti removal, repair work on a City Hall building in Eagle Rock, initiatives to help the homeless and other programs to address local needs.

But Molina criticized the city for responding slowly to police, street repair, trash and other needs, and said leadership is needed to create more affordable housing and improve Angelenos’ quality of life.

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