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All the incumbents running for re-election for their Los Angeles City Council seats jumped out to strong early leads Tuesday evening, while Karo Torossian, a staffer for Councilman Paul Krekorian, took the early lead in the open 7th Council District race.

Los Angeles voters are choosing from 42 council candidates vying for six seats, with five incumbents fighting to keep their jobs and 20 candidates looking to claim the open seat in the 7th District.

In the 1st Council District, incumbent Gil Cedillo jumped to a strong lead, with 56.97 percent of the vote. Challenger Joe Bray-Ali had 27.59 percent, Giovany Hernandez had 9.34 and Jesse Rosas had 6.10 percent.

Of the three challengers looking to unseat Cedillo in the 1st Council District, which includes Highland Park and Lincoln Heights, Bray-Ali received a significant bump when the Los Angeles Times endorsed him despite his lack of political experience. Bray-Ali is a bike activist and former bike shop owner who earned The Times’ nod over Cedillo, a seasoned political veteran first elected to the seat in 2013 and who also served 14 years in the Assembly and state Senate.

Despite his lack of experience with elected office, The Times board hailed Bray-Ali’s “understanding of land-use policy” and his business experience.

Even with the high-profile endorsement, money and history are not on Bray-Ali’s side. Cedillo holds a significant fundraising advantage, with $448,129 raised to Bray-Ali’s $106,603 through March 1. There is also the fact that no incumbent has been unseated in a City Council race since 2003, and in that instance Antonio Villaraigosa did so by coming into the race as a high- profile former Assembly speaker.

Cedillo also has the backing of the political establishment, with the endorsements of Gov. Jerry Brown, Sen. Kamala Harris, Mayor Eric Garcetti and Council President Herb Wesson.

Rosas and Hernandez have raised minimal campaign funds and have not received any significant endorsements.

In the 5th Council District, Councilman Paul Koretz took an early lead, with 66.44 percent of the early vote, compared to 28.65 percent for Jesse Creed and 4.91 percent for Mark Herd.

Koretz is facing the most significant challenge — at least financially – – of any of the incumbents, as Creed has raised more money than any challenger looking to unseat an incumbent in any other race.

Creed, an attorney, has raised $365,427 to Koretz’s $515,829. There has also been significant outside money spent on the race, with a committee supporting Creed having raised $64,000 through Feb. 28 versus a committee supporting Koretz having raised $119,000.

Koretz received the endorsement of The Times, but Creed nabbed the endorsement of the Los Angeles Daily News.

Development has been a big issue in the 5th District, which includes a number of wealthy areas such as Encino, Cheviot Hills, Bel-Air and Westwood that have many residents concerned about traffic and over-building. Creed has made it his campaign’s focus, pledging not to take any money from developers during his campaign or while he is in office, while Koretz painted himself as a deal-maker who gets developers and the community to compromise.

Reed did not raised any money or receive any significant endorsements.

The 7th Council District seat is open due to former Councilman Felipe Fuentes stepping down in September to work as a lobbyist, and Torossian jumped out with 28.92 percent of the early vote. Monica Rodriguez was second, with 23.41 percent, and Monica Ratliff was third, with 8.32 percent.

A total of 20 candidates are on the ballot, making a runoff election in May likely unless one is able to garner more than 50 percent of the votee.

Of the 20 candidates, Ratliff, Rodriguez and Torossian had the most steam in terms of campaign contributions and endorsements.

Rodriguez, a former member of the city’s Board of Public Works, received the endorsement of Garcetti, who appointed her to the role, and from seven council members, Rep. Tony Cardenas and the police and firefighter unions. She has also raised the most money, with $393,127.

But despite Rodriguez’s political endorsements and campaign coffers, both The Times and the L.A. Daily News endorsed Los Angeles Unified school board member Monica Ratliff, with both citing her reputation as an independent voice on the board as a top reason. Ratliff has raised $56,525, third most in the race.

Torossian, who serves as Councilman Paul Krekorian’s director of planning and the environment, has raised the second most in the race, with $237,273, and has also picked up Krekorian’s endorsement and that of the Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley.

The other candidates in the race are Bonnie D. Corwin, Jose G. Castillo, Terrence “Terry” Gomes, Franki Marie Becerra, Mike Schaefer, Carlos Lara, Dale Gibson, Olga Ayala, Venessa Martinez, Nicole Chase, Mark Reed, Krystee Clark, John T. Higginson, Art Miner, David Jesse Barron, Connie Saunders and Fred A. Flores.

In the 9th Council District, incumbent Curren Price jumped to an early lead, with 72.03 percent of the vote. Price is facing two challengers in Jorge Nuno, who had 13.01 percent, and Adriana Cabrera, who had 14.96 percent in what could be a history-making race of either of the challengers pick up more steam.

The district, which stretches from the southern part of downtown into South Los Angeles, has had a black representative on the council since the 1960s but has become a majority Latino district over the years.

Nuno, a Latino graphic designer and community activist with no political experience, only raised $93,398 to Price’s $461,516, but picked up an endorsement from The Times over Price, who has held the seat since 2013 and has been in elected office since 1993 on the Inglewood City Council and in the state Legislature.

Price has endorsements of Garcetti, Harris and a long list of other elected politicians, including eight of his fellow council members.

In the 11th Council District, which includes the Westside communities of Venice Beach, Brentwood and Pacific Palisades, Councilman Mike Bonin jumped to a strong lead, with 68.45 percent of the early vote, compared to 18.61 for Mark Ryavec and 12.94 percent for Robin Rudisill.

Bonin entered the election with a significant fundraising advantage, with $460,726 raised compared to Ryavec, a political activist, and Rudisill, a former member of the Venice Neighborhood Council, who both raised five figures.

In the 13th District, which includes Echo Park, Silver Lake and part of Hollywood, Councilman Mitch O’Farrell jumped out to an early lead, with 74.25 percent of the vote.

O’Farrell is facing five challengers, but holds a significant fundraising advantage with more than $418,000 raised compared to the second- highest, Sylvie Shain, a tenant activist, with $36,922. Shain also has the second highest of the early vote, with 8.29 percent.

His other challengers are activist Doug Haines, businessman David de la Torre, former Hollywood Studio District Neighborhood Council President Bill Zide and Jessica Salans, who volunteered on Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.

In the 15th Council District, which includes San Pedro and Watts, Councilman Joe Buscaino jumped to an early lead, with 74.6 percent of the cote.

Buscaino entered the election with a significant fundraising advantage, with more than $373,000 raised compared to his two challengers, Noel Gould and Caney Arnold, who have both raised less that $10,000. Arnold had 18.77 percent, and Gould had 6.63 percent.

Buscaino, a former LAPD officer, also received the endorsement of The Times, Garcetti and County Supervisor Janice Hahn, who held the seat before him.

In the 3rd Council District, Councilman Bob Blumenfield is running unopposed.

–City News Service

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