There are two Los Angeles City Council seats up for grabs on May 16, along with two Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education seats. Hotly contested, these races are full of accusations, drama and some mystery. One citywide ballot measure will also be decided.
Monica Rodriguez and Karo Torossian are the candidates for the open council seat in District 7 in the San Fernando Valley that includes the communities of Pacoima, Lake View Terrace, Mission Hills, North Hills, Sunland-Tujunga and Sylmar. The empty seat was vacated by Felipe Fuentes, who angered residents when he left without completing his term.
This race in its final days has become quite contentious, with a phantom attempt to delete Torrossian’s Facebook page and his campaign signs stolen and thrown into trash bins.
While it’s not uncommon for campaign signs to “disappear,” in this case the culprit is believed to be a person affiliated with Sylmar Graffiti Busters, a contractor with the Department of Public Works, who was caught on security cameras trespassing onto private property in Sylmar and illegally removing campaign signs. The culprit can be seen on video driving a Sylmar Graffiti Busters truck and wearing a vest like those worn by workers associated with this city contractor.
In the video, the person reportedly walks onto private property through a gateway to remove Karo Torossian’s campaign signs that were legally placed there. His supporters are demanding an investigation and have accused Torrossian’s opponent Monica Rodriguez, a former public works commissioner of being responsible for the improper action.
Rodriguez could not be reached by press time for comment.
Torrossian, following a candidate’s forum, won the support from SAFE Coalition which announced its members voted 22-2 to recognize Torossian “as the CD7 candidate most capable of and most committed to supporting SAFE’s mission of removing the threat of high-speed trains from our residential areas, businesses and sensitive environmental areas.”
Torrossian has been praised for his work on land use issues and supporting the need for open spaces, wildlife and keeping natural environments. Among his accomplishments while serving on the staff of Councilmember Paul Krekorian’s as director of Planning and the Environment, is saving the historic McGroarty Arts Center and getting polluting businesses to clean up their act. He has won endorsements from California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, and from the SEIU 721 public employees union.
Rodriguez has received a long list of endorsements from elected officials that include Mayor Eric Garcetti, Secretary of State Alex Padilla, and Los Angeles council members Mitch Englander, Nury Martinez and David Ryu.
Rodriguez also has a long list of union support including The National Union of Healthcare Workers and the United Farmworkers of America.
She has listed her goals to include standing up to special interests and “mega developers” and bring more accountability and transparency to City Hall. In her campaign material, Rodriguez says she is the only candidate with a proven record working to bring transparency and accountability to local government, cracking down on cronyism and no-bid contracts, and protecting taxpayers from fraud and abuse.
In the LAUSD’s District 4, Nick Melvoin is challenging board President Steve Zimmer, while Kelly Fitzpatrick-Gonez and Imelda Padilla are vying for the open seat in District 6 that includes the communities of Arleta, Lake Balboa, Lakeview Terrace, Mission Hills, North Hollywood, North Hills, Pacoima, Panorama City, Reseda, San Fernando, Sun Valley, Sunland/Tujunga, Sylmar, and Van Nuys. The seat is currently held by Monica Ratliff.
Also on the ballot, Measure C would change the rules on police disciplinary boards to add the option of officers facing an all-civilian panel as an alternative to a panel of two command-level officers and one civilian.