Longtime council aide John Lee was recognized by the City Council Wednesday as the Councilman-elect for northwestern San Fernando Valley’s 12th District seat.
Although some votes remain to be counted, Lee appears to be the winner over Loraine Lundquist in the special election to fill the seat.
“This has been an interesting four months, and now that the campaigning is over, I’m ready to get down here and start the work,” Lee said in Council Chambers, after Council President Herb Wesson invited him to speak.
With all 57 precincts reporting, Lee held a 1,329-vote lead over Lundquist, an astrophysicist and longtime “social justice” activist, according to figures released by Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk.
Lee has 16,724 votes to 15,395 for Lundquist, a lead of 52.07 percent to 47.93 percent, with an unknown number of vote-by-mail and provisional ballots remaining to be counted. The next update won’t be until Friday, according to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk.
Although the race is nonpartisan, District 12 — which includes Chatsworth, Northridge, Porter Ranch, Granada Hills and West Hills — has traditionally leaned Republican. Lee is a Republican. Lundquist is a Democrat.
Lee told reporters at the meeting that the main issues he wants to address from the start include increasing supportive housing for the homeless and working with the city’s Department of Sanitation to help with clean-ups, but he said within his district he wants to focus on the North San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor’s bus rapid transit project that’s being discussed at length.
“I’m trying to see what role I can play, what I can do in the final decision that is made on (the transit line),” Lee said. “I want to start right away tackling the issues that I talked about, and I’m just eager to get to work.”
The project is an 18-mile line that would connect the west and east San Fernando Valley, California State University, Northridge, key job hubs and residential neighborhoods to existing and proposed bus and rail lines.
Lee said he thought he focused more on local, district issues rather than his opponent who was focused on the Green New Deal issues, albeit that she ran a “great campaign.”
“Just because my opponent is an environmentalist does not mean I’m not an environmentalist, and I look forward to working with those groups,” Lee said.
Lundquist congratulated Lee for running “a really good race,” but said she would “wait until all the ballots are counted” before conceding.
“We have a lot of provisional ballots, absentee ballots that do need to be counted,” Lundquist said.
Lee was seeking to become the second aide in the 12th Council District to ascend to council member. He was the chief of staff for then-City Councilman Mitch Englander, who was previously the chief of staff for then-Councilman Greig Smith.
Englander resigned last year to take a job in the private sector, and Smith has been filling the council seat on a temporary basis pending the special election.
Both candidates put forth ideas for addressing homelessness and pointed to their past work on the issue.
Lundquist has been the co-chair of the homelessness committee of Northridge East Neighborhood Council and a founding member of the West Valley Neighborhood Alliance on Homelessness. She said she backs creating more permanent supportive housing to help reduce the number of people on the streets.
According to his website, Lee has volunteered for a variety of charities in his district. One of his goals is to not just get the homeless population off the streets but to help them find employment. He also wants to establish more neighborhood security teams and create a “more effective” intervention system to help families on the brink of losing their home.