The Little Tokyo Community Council (LTCC) will host its Candidates Forum for the City of Los Angeles’ Council District 14 (CD-14) election on Thursday, Feb. 6, beginning at 6 p.m. in the JANM National Center for the Preservation of Democracy, 100 N. Central Ave. in Little Tokyo.

Cyndi Otteson and Kevin De Leon

Little Tokyo, one of the three remaining historic Japantowns and a California Cultural District, is located in CD-14, adjacent to the Downtown Civic Center. For more than a century, it has been impacted, often in a negative fashion, by projects and decisions by the City of Los Angeles. The council district officeholder has the greatest influence on proposed projects and developments that directly affect Little Tokyo.

Since current Councilmember Jose Huizar cannot run again for this seat because of term limits, a new councilperson will be elected on Nov. 3 of this year. With the primary election scheduled for Tuesday, March 3, LTCC’s Board of Directors and Managing Director Kristin Fukushima wanted to provide an opportunity for the leading candidates to address the most pressing issues facing Little Tokyo and its future in a public forum.

Monica Garcia and Raquel Zamora

While 14 individuals have declared their candidacies, LTCC chose to invite the five candidates who qualified for the ballot by collecting enough approved signatures from voters. Four of the five have accepted:

• Former California State Sen. Kevin De Leon;

• Former Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board member Monica Garcia;

• Miry’s List Board President Cyndi Otteson;

• LAUSD student counselor Raquel Zamora.

John Jimenez, co-founder of the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council, has yet not committed to attending.

Gwen Muranaka, senior editor of The Rafu Shimpo, will moderate the event and pose questions to the candidates. Audience members may submit written questions, which may be used, depending on time and relevance. Translation for the event will be done in Japanese, Korean and Spanish.

LTCC, founded in 1999 to represent the interests of the local residents, small businesses, religious institutions and cultural, arts, and historical nonprofit organizations, is seeking the positions of the leading candidates on Little Tokyo’s future. Specifically, LTCC wants to elicit support for the Sustainable Little Tokyo (SLT) Community Vision created through the input of over 200 stakeholders in 2013. SLT is maintained through a partnership between LTCC, the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center, and the Little Tokyo Service Center.

The SLT vision included community control over three parcels of city-owned property that were once part of historic Little Tokyo; more affordable housing; support for small businesses, especially legacy businesses; and continuing influence into major public projects such as the city’s Civic Center Master Plan and Metro’s proposed West Santa Ana Branch light rail project. Other major issues include gentrification and homelessness.

The Little Tokyo Community Council Board of Directors will not endorse any candidate for the council seat. However, individual directors may choose to support a candidate.

The Candidates Forum is free and open to the public. The Japanese American National Museum is the venue sponsor for the event. To RSVP, go to To learn more about LTCC’s platform, go to For information on parking and public transportation, go to

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