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Two veteran Sacramento lawmakers win L.A. City Council seats

State Sen. Curren Price and ex-Assemblyman Gil Cedillo both defeated foes with more local experience as council aides. A third council race is up in the air.

May 22, 2013|By Laura J. Nelson, Los Angeles Times
  • Mitch O'Farrell, who defeated John Choi for the 13th Council District seat, celebrates his victory at his election night party. The seat had been held by Eric Garcetti, who was elected L.A. mayor.
Mitch O'Farrell, who defeated John Choi for the 13th Council District… (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)

Two newly elected members of the Los Angeles City Council are veteran Sacramento lawmakers whose campaigns got large boosts from special interest contributions.

Former state Assemblyman Gil Cedillo and state Sen. Curren Price (D-Los Angeles) won election Tuesday, beating candidates with more local experience because of their jobs as City Council aides.

Cedillo and Price could be joined on the council by a third statehouse veteran if former Assemblywoman Cindy Montañez wins a runoff election July 23 against school board member Nury Martinez.

Montañez garnered far more votes than any of the other five candidates in the District 6 special election but didn't reach the 50% threshold needed to avoid a runoff to replace U.S. Rep. Tony Cardenas.

In the only other City Council race, Mitch O'Farrell, a former staff member of Councilman Eric Garcetti, defeated labor leader John Choi, winning 53% of the vote in District 13.

Some mail-in ballots must still be counted, but they are not expected to significantly change the results.

The election will lead to the biggest turnover on the 15-member City Council in more than a decade. By the end of the summer, seven new council members will take office, three of whom won their races outright in the March primary.

In the election to replace termed-out Councilman Ed Reyes, Cedillo won 52% of the vote to beat longtime Reyes aide Jose Gardea. Both candidates had promised to bring jobs and development to the 1st District, a heavily Latino area that cuts a diagonal swath from Pico-Union to Highland Park.

Cedillo, 59, had the backing of the county Federation of Labor and the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. Cedillo said he would be willing to work with developers and neighborhoods to find compromises on controversial projects, including proposed changes to Barlow Hospital in Elysian Park.

Gardea had gained community support by opposing digital billboards and a planned Wal-Mart grocery store in Chinatown.

In the South Los Angeles race to replace termed-out Councilwoman Jan Perry, Price won 53% of the vote to defeat Ana Cubas, a former City Council aide. Price, 62, had the endorsement of Perry, who represented the 9th District for 12 years. Price received more than $1.1 million from "independent expenditure" contributors, and Cubas had much less help financially. Her loss means that only one seat on the council will be held by a woman—the winner of the Montañez-Martinez runoff.

Montañez won 44% of the vote in the contest to fill the San Fernando Valley seat vacated by Cardenas' election. Twenty-four percent of voters favored Martinez.

The race between O'Farrell and Choi in the 13th district, an economically and racially diverse area that spans Echo Park and Hollywood, was the ugliest of the election season, with allegations of voter fraud, gunplay and homophobic slurs.

Choi had portrayed O'Farrell as a tool of real estate developers and a proponent of police layoffs. O'Farrell warned that Choi, who moved to the district last year, had little experience with local issues.

O'Farrell, Cedillo and Price will take office July 1.

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