Rafu Wire and Staff Reports

Challenger Nithya Raman continued to hold her Tuesday night lead Thursday in her effort to oust incumbent David Ryu from the Los Angeles City Council’s District 4 seat.

While there are an unknown number of ballots still remaining to be tallied, Raman had 61,183 votes (52.4%) and Ryu had 55,581 (47.6%), with more than, 5,600 votes separating the two, according to numbers published by the Los Angeles Registrar Recorder/County Clerk’s office on Friday.

Nithya Raman and David Ryu

“This is a moment of hope,” Raman said in a prepared statement. “While we are still waiting on the full results, there is absolutely no doubt that progress won in Los Angeles last night. The incredible victories by the movements for radical, carceral, environmental and housing justice will reverberate throughout our city for years to come.”

Raman is a homeless advocate and former executive director of Time’s Up Entertainment, a nonprofit that works against sexual harassment and abuse in the workforce.

Ryu has championed himself as a reformist on the council and pushed for more transparency in government. He touted his efforts to bring A Bridge Home transitional housing projects to his district. He also said he wants to prioritize the city’s budget, which has been hampered by COVID-19, to continue to deliver the most critical city services.

“This job, and my entire life, have been about serving the people of this city,” Ryu said during an online election-night briefing. “No matter what happens in this election, I promise you that I will never stop serving my city and I will never stop fighting for what is right. This campaign has never been about me. It has been about us, and the city that we can build together.”

Ryu tried to get a rent cancellation ordinance passed earlier this year due to the pandemic, but it failed to get enough support after City Attorney’s Office representatives questioned whether the city had the authority to completely halt rent payments.

Raman has been working with nonprofit organizations, and said she would work to help reduce the city’s homeless population by protecting tenants and lowering rents.

On policing, Raman said she wants to remove armed officers from situations in which they aren’t needed, while maintaining the ability to protect people against violence.

That stance is similar to Ryu’s, though the two have clashed over whose proposal would be better.

Both candidates secured high-profile Democratic endorsements. Former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont endorsed Raman and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi endorsed Ryu.

Raman ran a star-studded campaign, appearing on her social media platforms with endorsements from celebrities such as Natalie Portman and Adam Scott and hosting events with comedian Hannibal Buress.

In the primary, Ryu was forced into the runoff with Raman, as he finished with 44.7% of the vote to Raman’s 41.1% in the district that includes the Hollywood Hills and South San Fernando Valley.

Ryu is the second Asian American and the first Korean American to serve on the City Council. If elected, Raman, who was born in India, would be the first Asian American woman and the first South Asian on the council.

The council has another Asian American member, John Lee of District 12.

Mark Ridley-Thomas and Grace Yoo

In the District 10 City Council race, county Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas defeated Grace Yoo, an attorney and community advocate, 46,427 (61.26%) to 29,362 (38.74%).

Council President Nury Martinez congratulated Ridley-Thomas via social media Tuesday night.

“At such a critical time, Councilmember-Elect (Ridley-Thomas) brings experience and results in his return to the Los Angeles City Council,” Martinez said on Twitter. “Mark, Council District 10 will be well-served by you.”

Ridley-Thomas will replace Councilmember Herb Wesson, who ran for Ridley-Thomas’ county seat but lost to State Sen. Holly Mitchell.

Now serving his third term on the Board of Supervisors representing District 2, Ridley-Thomas is a former state senator and assemblyman.

During the campaign, Ridley-Thomas touted his sponsorship of Measure H, the county ballot measure expected to generate more than $3.5 billion over 10 years to build supportive housing to combat homelessness. He is also a co-chair on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Council of Regional Homeless Advisors.

Ridley-Thomas said he wants to transform public transportation, the criminal justice system and enhance renewable energy opportunities. He served on the City Council from 1991 to 2002, so he can only serve for another four years, per the city’s term limits.

The district includes much of central and South Los Angeles, including communities such as Koreatown, Mid City, Leimert Park, Arlington Heights, West Adams and Little Ethiopia.

“I have worked tirelessly with CD 10’s residents and business owners, listening to their concerns and helping tackle them,” Yoo said on her campaign website. “Now I want to take my experience and the diverse voices of those in CD 10 — the voices that I have listened to for decades, seeking green space and safety measures — to the L.A. City Council and make them heard and acted upon. I’m the person to do that, I am the positive change that we need.”

Yoo, who served as executive director of Korean American Coalition of Los Angeles for a decade, previously ran for the council seat five years ago, unsuccessfully challenging Wesson.

LATE BULLETIN: Ryu conceded on Friday and Raman is now District 4’s council member-elect.

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