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Nury Martinez. (Photo: lacity.gov)

Special LA City Council Election Held To Replace Disgraced Councilwoman Nury Martinez

Martinez heir-apparent Imelda Padilla currently leads crowded race

By Evan Symon, April 5, 2023 12:15 pm

The special Los Angeles City Council sixth district election to replace former disgraced Councilwoman Nury Martinez was held on Tuesday, with current results showing no clear winner as of Thursday afternoon.

Martinez, the former City Councilwoman, served the sixth district from 2013 until October of last year. That October, a conversation from 2021 between Martinez, fellow City Council members Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo, and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera saying numerous racist comments, was leaked online.

The four were discussing council redistricting when they brought up Councilman Mike Bonin, a white and openly gay Councilman, and his young black son and brought up a picture with Bonin and his family in a Martin Luther King Jr. parade.

“Bonin thinks he’s f—ing black,” said Martinez in the audio, pointing out the picture. “He handled his young Black son as though he were an accessory. They’re raising him like a little White kid. I was like, this kid needs a beatdown. Let me take him around the corner and then I’ll bring him back.”

Martinez then proceeded to use slurs against the eight-year-old child, saying in Spanish “Parece changuito” or in English, “He’s like a monkey.” Other slurs and derogatory comments followed, with Martinez proceeding to disparage whites, blacks, and indigenous members of the Latino community. The coverage caused all three affected Council members to release statements of apology, but did little to diffuse tensions.”

Calls to resign soon flooded in. While she initially only resigned as Council president, public pressure, as well as many prominent lawmakers such as then-LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, California Governor Gavin Newsom, and President of the US Joe Biden, called for her to step down completely. Martine resigned completely shortly thereafter,

With Martinez out, a special election to fill seat was soon announced, with several candidates announcing runs both late last year and early this year. While many entered, several quickly broke away from the pack in terms of popularity and support. These included:

  • Imelda Padilla – A public relations manager, Padilla had previously worked at Martinez’s environmental justice organization Pacoima Beautiful. In the leadup to the election, her close ties with Martinez and a similar rundown of stances on issues led many to call her “Nury the second”, “Nury Jr.”, and “Nury 2.0”.
  • Marisa Alcaraz – The deputy Chief of Staff and environmental policy director to Ninth District Councilman Curren Price, she made a name for herself during the pandemic for helping come up with many initiatives to help front line workers, including help create the ‘Hero Pay’ pay bump.
  • Rose Grigoryan – A recent Armenian immigrant and journalist, she quickly pulled massive support from the district’s Armenian community
  • Marco Santana – A former staffer for Congressman Tony Cardenas (D-CA) and former state Senator Bob Hertzberg, Santana entered the race as a a housing director for a non-profit, coming in with extensive affordable housing experience.

Padilla currently ahead in close election

While the top four candidates pulled ahead in support in the days before election day, Padilla proved the be the most popular candidate going in. While her close ties to Martinez won many of the former Councilwoman’s supporters over, Padilla’s emphasis on the homeless crisis also proved to be very popular amongst voters in the district.

“I pledge to prioritize an immediate solution to the unhoused crisis because what is currently occurring is not working,” said Padilla earlier this year. “I will propose an emergency remediation of encampments, connecting the unhoused population to essential services that will support them in finding housing, employment, and health services. I will work cohesively with all stakeholders, residents, non-profits organizations, religious leaders, business owners and health organizations to develop and implement sensible hyper-local solutions that make our communities safer, sanitary, and sustainable.”

On Tuesday, Padilla’s popularity showed through, as she quickly pulled out to a lead, despite a very low overall turnout. According to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, Padilla is currently winning the race with 2,288 votes, or around 25.5% of the vote. Alcaraz is currently in second with 1,723 votes, or about 19% of the vote, while Grigoryan and Santana both trail as well to round off the top four, coming in with 1,610 votes and 1,568 votes respectively.

The next vote update is currently scheduled for Friday. Should no candidate get more than above 50% of the vote, a run-off between the top two will be held on June 27th.

“Right now the big thing is the remnants of Martinez’s support and what voters want in that regard,” explained Adam Lopez, a pollster who has worked in the district, to the Globe on Wednesday. “Right now Padilla is leading off that wave of Martinez’s former supporters supporting her. The question will be, come June, if that is enough to have her win, or if voters decide not to continue that legacy. Just because you’re ahead in a primary with several candidates doesn’t mean you’ll have enough to carry over in a run off.”

Final voting results are expected soon as final votes are tallied.

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Evan Symon
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