Los Angeles will be holding local elections in a week's time, with four key seats and one ballot measure on the line.
The May 16 election will determine a winner for two different city council district seats and two Los Angeles Unified School District board seats, reports NBC4 media partner KPCC. Furthermore, voters will decide on Charter Amendment C, which would affect how police officers are disciplined.
City Council District 1: Candidates Gil Cedillo and Joe Bray-Ali will vie for the seat in City Council District 1, which covers communities including MacArthur Park, Koreatown, Mt. Washington and Cypress Park. Election day will be the culmination of a race embroiled in controversy.
Incumbent Gil Cedillo, who was elected to the First District in 2013, looked set to face a tough challenge until media reports uncovered incendiary internet posts from challenger Joe Bray-Ali.
Bray-Ali, a bicycle shop owner and bike safety activist, forced a runoff election by running a campaign that tapped into community anxiety over a number of issues. He had been endorsed by the Los Angeles Times as fresh alternative to Cedillo, who they accused of bringing about gentrification.
But Bray-Ali's momentum slowed recently as news website LAist and other media outlets revealed his comments in a forum titled after the "n-word;" his commenting that gender reassignment surgery is "shameful excess" in a thread about Ricky Gervais' Golden Globes routine; his mocking of overweigh people in a forum titled "v/FATPEOPLEHATE;" and his asking why his Mexican neighbors "think their car horn is a doorbell" to OC Weekly's Gustavo Arellano's "Ask a Mexican" column.
Bray-Ali later revealed that he had been unfaithful to his wife and owed almost $50,000 in taxes.
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He lost the Times endorsement, but has ignored calls to drop out of the race, while calling criticisms against him a "smear campaign" from an incumbent who is "running scared." May 16 will determine how badly the controversy hurt Bray-Ali's campaign.
City Council District 7: Candidates Monica Rodriguez and Karo Torossian are vying for a seat in a district that covers Sunland, Lake View Terrace, Pacoima and Tujunga. The seat has been empty since former City Council member Felipe Fuentes resigned in 2016.
Rodriguez is running on a platform of neighborhood improvements and job creation.
Her campaign website lists improved community policing and public transportation, support for small businesses, reducing homelessness and providing access to affordable housing as some of her top priorities.
Torossian, meanwhile, also lists local business growth as a priority. He opposes building a high-speed rail line through what he calls "environmentally sensitive area," and lists as a top goal the building of a fire station to serve the Sylmar area. Torissian also pledges to take steps to help the homeless by moving them into "permanent and supportive" housing programs.
Los Angeles Unified School Board District 4: Incumbent Steve Zimmer is facing challenger Nick Melvoin for the district that includes Venice, Marina del Rey, Pacific Palisades, Hollywood and other neighborhoods southwest of the San Fernando Valley.
Zimmer, who was first elected to the board in 2009, has been the subject of attack ads for his support in 2013 of then-superintendent John Deasy's $1.3 billion plan to buy iPads for every LAUSD student.
Software on the iPads was never fully functional and the plan was cancelled in 2014. Zimmerman, however, says he was sold "lies" to support the program and voted to cancel it and recoup the money from Apple and the software publisher.
Melvoin is a former English teacher and received an endorsement from the LA Times, which says Zimmerman has refused to confront the district's financial challenges. However, Melvoin is a proponent of charter schools, which supporters say are a good alternative to failing schools but are still controversial and maligned by many.
Los Angeles Unified School Board District 6: Imelda Padilla and Kelly Gonez are vying for a seat that covers East San Fernando Valley neighborhoods east of the 405 Freeway.
Both candidates are running on a platform that focuses on better resources for students with special needs and increased magnet and dual language immersion programs.
While both favor expanded "school choice" policies that give parents more ability to choose which school their children attend, both also agree that such alternative schools, such as charters, must be held accountable for their academic and financial performance.
City Charter Amendment C: The amendment would allow police officers who are going through disciplinary procedures to choose an all-civilian review panel, as opposed to the current panel, which is made up of two LAPD command staffers and one civilian.
The measure was introduced by City Council President Herb Wesson and has been backed by officials from the Los Angeles Police Protective League, who say it will encourage civilian participation in police departments and create impartial panels.
Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Los Angeles branch of Black Lives Matter, however, have criticized the measure. They contend that the current qualifications required to be chosen for the panel are not representative of the overall population and that analysis shows that civilian board members are more lenient than sworn officers.
Read more about the candidates and the ballot measure at KPCC.