Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar jumped to a commanding lead in his bid for re-election in the 14th District Tuesday night, according to a tally of early ballots.

Huizar had 63 percent of the early vote, compared to 24.8 percent for his closest challenger, former County Supervisor Gloria Molina.

Meanwhile, David Ryu and Carolyn Ramsay were leading a pack of 14 candidates hoping to replace termed-out Councilman Tom LaBonge in the Fourth District.

Los Angeles voters were choosing from among more than 30 candidates vying for City Council seats in seven races. Two open seats are up for grabs, while the race between Huizar and Molina was billed as a heavyweight battle between two Eastside political veterans.

Molina is the best known of four challengers attempting to unseat Huizar, who is seeking a third and final term representing the district that stretches from Boyle Heights to downtown Los Angeles.

Molina was elected to the state Assembly in 1982 and the Los Angeles City Council in 1987. She was elected in 1991 to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, where she served five terms until she was forced to vacate her seat in 2014 due to term limits. In each job, she claimed the distinction of being the first Latina to join the body.

Huizar has said the 14th District has seen improvements thanks to his efforts to secure funding for graffiti removal, repair work on a City Hall building in Eagle Rock, initiatives to help the homeless and other programs to address local needs.

But Molina has criticized the city for responding slowly to police, street repair, trash and other needs, and said leadership is needed to create more affordable housing and improve Angelenos’ quality of life.

Huizar is also being challenged by social worker Nadine Momoyo Diaz, community activist Mario Chavez and political consultant John O’Neill.

Meanwhile, the eastern San Fernando Valley’s 6th District race features a political rematch, with former Assemblywoman Cindy Montanez and incumbent Nury Martinez battling to represent the district. Early ballots showed Martinez getting the best of her opponent, collecting nearly 60 percent of the vote.

Montanez was the top vote-getter in the 2013 primary election to complete Tony Cardenas’ unexpired term, but she lost to Martinez in an upset in the runoff election.

Martinez says during her more than 18 months on the job, she has fought prostitution and human trafficking crimes, brought in economic opportunities and jobs, and worked to clear up blight.

Montanez has accused the incumbent of moving too slowly to address the needs of the district. She says the district lacks the leadership needed to curb crime and eliminate a recurring problem of bulky items being left on sidewalks, alleys and other public places.

At least two council districts are guaranteed to be represented by new faces, thanks to the incumbents being termed out.

Tom LaBonge’s seat in the 4th District is being fought over by an unusually large field of 14 candidates who range from City Hall veterans to an activist who successfully defeated the city’s red light camera program. The race will likely result in a runoff in May with the two candidates who finish atop the field.

Meanwhile, Marqueece Harris-Dawson, a former executive director of a nonprofit founded by Rep. Karen Bass to improve economic conditions in South Los Angeles communities, jumped to a strong early lead in the race to replace Bernard Parks in the 8th District. Harris-Dawson collected key endorsements from 10 members of the City Council, as well as from Bass, County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and others.

But he lacked one key endorsement. Parks endorsed Bobbie Jean Anderson, a commissioner on the state Board of Barbering and Cosmetology and vice chair of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party. Anderson also garnered the endorsements of Councilman Gil Cedillo, former Councilwoman Jan Perry and Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles.

Also running for the seat are banking executive Forescee Hogan-Rowles and Robert Cole, who owns a communications company and sits on the Los Angeles County Citizens’ Economy & Efficiency Commission.

The field narrows considerably and fewer surprises are expected in three races in which incumbents are running for re-election.

Herb Wesson, who represents the 10th Council District, appeared to be cruising to victory over Koreatown activist Grace Yoo, who last clashed with the powerful council president during contentious proceedings to redraw district lines. Residents of Koreatown said at the time that the new council district lines failed to keep their community within a single district.

Yoo has also directly challenged a proposal initiated by Wesson to change the city election schedule from odd-numbered to even-numbered years, which she says will do more to help special interests than increase voter turnout.

The election year change proposal in on the ballot as Charter Amendment 1 and Charter Amendment 2. If passed, the measure would lengthen the terms of city and school board officials elected in the 2015 and 2017 elections.

Councilman Paul Krekorian’s also had a commanding lead in his bid for a second term representing the 2nd District — which includes North Hollywood, Studio City, Valley Village and Van Nuys. He has one challenger in Eric Preven, a television writer who is a regular gadfly at City Council and County Board of Supervisor meetings.

Councilman Mitch Englander ran unopposed in the 12th District, which includes Reseda, North Hills, Northridge, Chatsworth and Porter Ranch.

City News Service

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