Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

A health-care director and a former City Hall chief of staff led a pack of 14 candidates Tuesday night hoping to replace termed-out Councilman Tom LaBonge in the 4th District, with the race still tight among the crowded field, according to a tally of vote-by-mail ballots.

David Ryu, a director at the Kedren Acute Psychiatric Hospital and Community Health Center, took 16.84 percent of early votes, followed by LaBonge’s former chief of staff, Carolyn Ramsay, who had 14.58 percent of the votes.

Four other candidates took substantial slivers of the votes, with nonprofit director Tomas O’Grady garnering 11.75 percent, Wally Knox with 11.5 percent, Steve Veres taking 11.47 percent and Teddy Davis rounding it out with 10.93 percent.

The candidates are seeking to represent a district that includes suburban communities in the San Fernando Valley as well as neighborhoods surrounding Griffith Park, Miracle Mile and Hollywood.

Today’s election will likely just narrow the field to two contenders who will square off in a May 19 runoff.

If a single candidate manages to take more than 50 percent of the vote, he or she would win the election outright. But with the high number of candidates likely to spread out the votes, the 4th District race is likely to result in the top two candidates advancing to the general election.

Ryu campaigned on a platform of improving communication between the city and residents and says he supports raising the minimum wage and gradually eliminating the gross receipts tax. He also wants to improve communication between the city and residents.

Ramsay is looking to succeed her former boss. She touts 15 years of experience working on issues affecting the district, initially as a journalist and environmental activist, then as a member of LaBonge’s staff for about nine years.

O’Grady is the director of the nonprofit EnrichLA, which works with schools to build edible gardens. His priorities include environmental and financial sustainability. He also wants to focus on the issues of development and transportation.

Knox, an attorney who also sits on the Los Angeles Community College board, said he will fight to limit “over development” in neighborhoods.

Veres, a trustee overseeing the Los Angeles Community College system, said he wants to put his efforts into lowering crime, improving the delivery of city services, and working to reduce traffic congestion through better planning.

Davis is a former television journalist and press deputy to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. His goals, if elected, are to hold the Department of Water and Power accountable and to improve basic city services such as tree- trimming, street maintenance and fixing sidewalks.

Eight other candidates have vote percentages in the single digits.

Joan Pelico, a former chief of staff for Councilman Paul Koretz, boasts more than a decade working with constituents in the city, particularly in the Sherman Oaks area that used to belong to Koretz’s district prior to redistricting. She has a background in the fitness industry.

Businessman Rostom “Ross” Sarkissian, is running on a platform of reducing traffic, balancing the budget and fighting over-development in neighborhoods. Sarkissian said he is an immigrant whose family fled the civil war in Lebanon. He graduated from Occidental College and has a master’s degree from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Jay Beeber is credited with successfully challenging city efforts to install red-light cameras, saying they result in costly penalties to drivers. Just before announcing his run for council, Beeber also became involved in efforts to overhaul the city’s parking ticket system. He is pledging to reduce employee pension and benefit costs, reform the Department of Water and Power, and fix the city’s deteriorating infrastructure.

Sheila Irani, a businesswoman and a first-generation Iranian American, says she has worked on neighborhood issues as a field deputy for LaBonge. She says she will focus on overhauling employee pension and compensation, setting up vanpools and limiting development according to how much the city’s infrastructure can handle.

Fred Mariscal is a marketing executive and an active member of the Los Angeles neighborhood council system, sitting on the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council board. He is also a vice chair of the coalition of neighborhood councils. His priorities include changing the city’s parking enforcement system, and says one of the biggest issues facing the city is the construction of homes that are unusually large relative to their lots, also known as “mansionization.”

Mike Schaefer, a former councilman and prosecutor in San Diego, said he would focus primarily on parking enforcement issues, and says the city should limit its street sweeping hours and lower its parking fines. Schaefer boasts the endorsements of Jerry Maron, the actor who played the Lollipop Guild Munchkin in the film “Wizard of Oz,” and Felix Silla, who played Cousin Itt in the television show “The Addams Family.”

Step Jones, who owns xoxo vapor bar, said he would focus on how the city spends its money, and leave alone “social and moral” issues.

Tara Bannister said she will work to turn the Metro Orange Line from a bus service to a light rail line and improve the condition of sidewalks. She recently worked for the National Apartment Association

City News Service

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