(left) Imelda Padilla (right) Marisa Alcaraz

A tight race is expected in the June 27 runoff election between the last two candidates vying to fill the Los Angeles City Council Sixth District seat, which was vacated last year by Nury Martinez.

Imelda Padilla and Marisa Alcaraz took the top two spots in an April 4 special election out of a total of seven candidates. Padilla received 3,424 votes, or 25. 65 percent, while Alcaraz took 2,821 votes or 21.13 percent. 

Padilla has previously worked on community projects with the City Council, including with Martinez, and Alcaraz is the deputy chief of staff for Councilmember Curren Price.

The two are going head-to-head over the Sixth District, which consists of Van Nuys, Arleta, Lake Balboa, Sun Valley, Panorama City and the eastern portions of North Hollywood and North Hills.

The seat was vacated last October when Martinez, then the City Council president, resigned after she made inappropriate comments viewed as racist in a meeting that was secretly recorded and leaked to the media. The seat has since then been overseen by a nonvoting caretaker — Sharon Tso, the city’s chief legislative analyst. Constituents have noted that what was once viewed as an efficient office has been largely unresponsive since Martinez’ departure.

Padilla, 35, was born in Van Nuys and raised in Sun Valley. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley and a master’s degree from Cal State Northridge University.

Her platform includes proposing an emergency remediation of encampments and connecting the unhoused population to services to support them in finding housing and employment, a pilot program in which police would cooperate with social workers to help answer mental health-related 911 calls and funding recreational programs at parks.

Padilla’s endorsements include Councilmember Monica Rodriguez, Congressman Tony Cárdenas and City of San Fernando Mayor Celeste Rodriguez. She’s also garnered the support of labor unions, including Warehouse Union — Southern California District Council, National Union of Healthcare Workers and Laborers Local Union Local 300.

“I am running because all the residents of Council District 6 deserve to feel safe in their communities,” Padilla’s campaign page says. “Through inclusive leadership and thoughtful policy development, families across the district will regain confidence in local government.”

Alcaraz, 38, was born in Lake Balboa. She graduated from UC Irvine with a bachelor’s degree and from the University of Southern California with a master’s degree. On her campaign page, Alcaraz touts herself for being someone “behind the scenes” who championed labor policies including raising the minimum wage to $15, expanding Project Labor Agreements to make sure more workers have access to good pay and benefits and adopting hero pay — an additional $5 per hour for employees working in grocery and drug retail stores during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She has been endorsed by City Council President Paul Krekorian and San Fernando Councilmember Cindy Montañez and Councilman Curren Price. There are other labor unions that have backed Alcaraz as well, including the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, the Southwest Mountain States Regional Council of Carpenters and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 94.

On her campaign page, it said that Alcaraz will create a new era for the district “that is about unity and equity, about building up our neighborhoods and communities, empowering our youth, and being better leaders for the next generation to follow.”

While both candidates have said that one of their main goals is to restore public trust by increasing accountability and transparency, neither are without skeptics. 

Padilla has been scrutinized for her former ties to Nury Martinez, having previously worked under her at the nonprofit Pacoima Beautiful as a community organizer. She is the sister of the organization’s current executive director Veronica Padilla.  Pacoima Beautiful has been actively supporting the closure of Whiteman Airport.  

And in rather unfortunate timing for her campaign, Curren Price, one of Alcaraz’s main supporters, was charged Tuesday with 10 counts of embezzlement, perjury and conflict of interest.

The winner of the runoff election will complete Martinez’s term, which ends in December 2024.