The campaign to combine Los Angeles’ elections with state and federal contests has been hailed by backers as a way to lift the city’s dismal turnout, which in the last mayoral race was 23%. But more than a dozen candidates for City Council now say that they oppose the idea, claiming it could make races more expensive and give a leg up to incumbents and others backed by special interests. Charter Amendments 1 and 2 were put on the March 3 ballot by the council to reverse a decline in voter participation during the odd-year city and school board elections. On the campaign trail, however, several candidates — some experiencing their first brush with the election process — have begun warning that the date change would have other, less positive, consequences.
In a Silver Lake-to-Sherman Oaks district, eight of the 14 candidates running to replace termed-out Councilman Tom LaBonge have come out against the charter measures — one to shift city elections, the other to move school board races. In a Crenshaw-to-Koreatown race, activist Grace Yoo has argued against the proposals as she wages a challenge to Council President Herb Wesson. And on the Eastside, three of the four candidates looking to unseat Councilman Jose Huizar have been advising voters to reject the measures.
“A yes vote would put grass-roots candidates like myself completely out of the running,” said community activist Mario Chavez, a former union organizer running against Huizar.