Having kept his promises, David Ryu seeks reelection

| September 30, 2020 | 0 Comments


Heralded as the “anti-corruption” candidate when he first won in 2015, David Ryu now is fighting to hold his seat in Council District 4. For most of 2020, Ryu has been leading his constituents through one of the most challenging years in memory all while debating with his opponent, “who, between them, is the bigger reformer”?

“I plan to get reelected, rather, I need to get reelected, because there’s still so much that needs to get done,” Ryu told Chronicle staff over Zoom last month.

By many accounts, Ryu hasn’t stopped working for reform since he hit the ground running in 2015 with a push to change City Council campaign finance rules. Reform, however, was not as popular with his fellow City Councilmembers then as it appears to be now, and Ryu’s initial effort failed to get even one other council member to second his motion. But he continued fighting. Then, in May 2019, after four years of advocacy, Ryu’s third attempt to limit real estate developer donations was approved.

“Since the day I entered office, this is the legislation I have believed in, and this is the legislation I have fought for,” said Ryu on Dec. 4, 2019, following passage of the long-sought ordinance.

Even as Ryu was celebrating his victory to ban political contributions from developers with business before the city, his political opponent was labeling him a City Hall insider. What’s that like?

“I think my opponent had a perception of who City Councilmembers are, and she thought I was one of them, when the reality is that I’m the one changing it all. So when my opponent says that I am now the insider, I think she means well and has a good heart — and I would love to work with her — but I don’t think she even knew my background,” says Ryu, who grew up in East Hollywood after immigrating with his family to Los Angeles at the age of six.

“People laughed at me for trying to introduce the most basic of legislation — that developers who have a project before City Council cannot donate to a Council race. I was told ‘You will never get that passed.’ It went from never being able to pass, to it didn’t go far enough. That’s where I was able to move the barometer,” he points out.

“For those people that say I haven’t done enough about corruption, are you kidding me? Where were they five years ago when I was standing by myself?” asks Ryu.

Endorsed (in this nonpartisan election) by the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, Ryu also has the support of local leaders including Cindy Chvatal, president of the Hancock Park Homeowners Association, and Larry Guzin, president of the Windsor Square Association, who both tell the Chronicle that Ryu has kept each of his promises to the Larchmont community.

On homelessness, Ryu says that several local projects are in the works: “In CD4, by next year, we are probably going to have the most amount of housing in relation to the number of homeless individuals. We have about roughly 1,000 homeless individuals, and we have about 300 beds now that are open and serving and another 300-plus beds that are going to open by next year,” explains Ryu, who notes that those 600 beds include multiple types of housing including bridge housing and permanent supportive housing, as well as safe parking. On affordable housing, Ryu says that when it comes to building more housing, it’s not just about saying “no, no, no” to Sacramento. “The state is going to continuously come down with different types of legislation to build more and take away our planning rights. So what we really need to do in Los Angeles is to have our own processes to build.”

Campaigning for political office is rarely easy, but in 2020 Ryu has often had to put politics behind more urgent business for CD4: “What the coronavirus did was literally expose the inequalities that already existed in our city,” he explains.

In the early days of the pandemic, while cities were scrambling to source COVID-19 tests, Ryu jumped at the opportunity to help: “I started calling South Korea trying to secure tests,” he says. Ryu was able to purchase 20,000 tests below market price using his discretionary funds at a time when testing was unavailable in other areas.

Ryu didn’t stop there. In the last several months, he has introduced legislation in City Council to expand the rent freeze for rent-stabilized units, to implement a rental assistance program, and to fund additional cleaning of private senior homes and facilities. He also has supported measures for small business like the “LA Alfresco” program.

“I would love to get to spend more time campaigning, but not only do I have a day job, but more importantly, I have a job during one of the biggest crises our city has ever faced,” says Ryu as he reflects on the upcoming runoff election.

“It’s not just the pandemic,” he says. “Even before that, we had a crisis of homelessness and housing, not to mention corruption.

“I didn’t come into this job to placate people and be nice. I came to make waves and change the system,” says Ryu. “But it’s a very weird time right now. My opponent is literally copying-and-pasting the stuff that I’ve done, or that I’m working on. She is running a carefully crafted PR campaign.”

Even so, Ryu is confident that he will win reelection: “The fact is, CD4 voters are not unsophisticated. Actually, CD4 voters are disproportionately to other districts educated, and, actually, they read the second line, not just the tweet. They turn the page. Because of that factor — that our voters will actually dig in deep — that is how I’m going to win,” concludes Ryu.

Visit davidryu.com

Tags: , ,

Category: News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *