Local forums abound as June 7 election deadline looms

| June 2, 2022 | 0 Comments

CANDIDATE KAREN BASS is interviewed on May 24 by Dan Schnur as part of The Ebell’s series of mayoral debates co-sponsored with the Los Angeles World Affairs Council and Town Hall.     Photo by Casey Russell

As the primary campaigns for City of Los Angeles elected offices — Mayor, City Attorney, Controller and local Council Districts 5 and 13 (plus County Supervisorial District 3) — begin to wrap up prior to the June 7 deadline to return ballots, the Larchmont Chronicle readership area has been full of candidate panels and debates.

Ebell mayoral interview

U.S. Congressmember Karen Bass was the third and final candidate for mayor to appear for a pre-primary interview with Dan Schnur at The Ebell of Los Angeles. The program on May 24 was part of The Ebell’s series of mayoral debates co-sponsored by the Los Angeles World Affairs Council and Town Hall. The two candidates to appear previously were Mike Feuer and Joe Buscaino. Both subsequently withdrew from the race, with Feuer endorsing Bass and Buscaino endorsing Rick Caruso.

At this most recent Ebell event, there were about 100 attendees. Schnur asked Bass questions for about 45 minutes, with the first question being about the shooting that day at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Subsequent topics of their discussion included transportation issues, homelessness, crime, the size of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and policing, generally.

The second half of the program was devoted to questions from the audience. A majority of those questions concerned homelessness and housing.

The evening ended at about 7:45 p.m. with Bass leaving to fly back to Washington D.C. to be with President Biden on May 25 when he signed an executive order on policing and criminal justice practices that Bass and Senators Cory Booker and Tim Scott were instrumental in getting drafted.

City Council contests

A bit to the west and the week prior, there was a candidate gathering for the four CD 5 candidates, and there also had been a previous nearby forum for the contestants running in CD 13.
This newspaper already reported on the Windsor Square Association panel with the five CD 13 candidates moderated by political expert and local resident Michael Murphy. That full program was recorded and is available online at: tinyurl.com/y3n2t69a

PARK LA BREA Residents Association (PLBRA) sponsored a live CD 5 candidates’ forum. Moderator and PLBRA board member Nicole Duquette is at right, and the four candidates, from the left, are Jimmy Biblarz, Scott Epstein, Sam Yebri and Katy Young Yaroslavsky.

More recent was the forum for CD 5 candidates at Park La Brea, organized by the Park La Brea Residents Association (PLBRA), as well as a visit to the semi-annual meeting of the Larchmont Village Neighborhood Association (LVNA) by CD 13 incumbent councilmember Mitch O’Farrell.

Park La Brea

All four candidates for the CD 5 seat — that soon will be vacated by Paul Koretz —participated in the forum in the Park La Brea recreation center auditorium on May 15, drawing about 100 residents. Presenting their different visions for the council district’s large area (Bel Air to Palms to Wilshire Park via Mid-City, Hancock Park and more) were Jimmy Biblarz, Scott Epstein, Katy Young Yaroslavsky and Sam Yebri, all of whom are attorneys.

“Career politicians broke this city,” said Yebri, “and the Council needs fresh new ideas.”
Epstein, who is a longtime renter in the district, said the district must address the issue of affordable housing, the homeless and climate change. “The new councilperson must have ‘lived-in’ experience, as I do,” he said.

Regarding the homeless population, Biblarz said he believes the city has only touched the tip of the iceberg. “We’re basically treading water,” he said.

Also addressing homelessness, Yaroslavsky mentioned the many office buildings that sit empty as a result of the pandemic and which could house the homeless. Public safety, crime and renters’ rights were among the other topics discussed.

Angela Gyetvan, vice-president of the PLBRA, called the forum a success. “We were delighted with the strong turnout from Park La Brea residents and that we have four great candidates running for CD 5 this year. Our residents are becoming more and more engaged in the political process, and given that there are nearly 10,000 of us, we’re happy to speak up and vote to make sure we have the kind of representation we expect on the City Council,” Gyetvan added.

Yebri and Yaroslavsky

SAM YEBRI talks with interested potential voters in the Hancock Park backyard of Susana and Peter Funsten.

Just as the mayor’s race at this point seems to be focused primarily on two candidates — Bass and Caruso — the main contenders to become the next CD 5 councilmember are said by most seasoned political observers to be Sam Yebri and Katy Young Yaroslavsky. Both candidates have been receiving attention at gatherings at homes in Hancock Park, sometimes on the same day. That was the case on that same, busy, Sunday, May 15, when Yaroslavsky met neighbors in the morning at the home of Janet and Michael Soffer, at a gathering co-sponsored by Nancy Berman and Alan Bloch. Later that same Sunday, the meet-and-greet was for Sam Yebri at the home of Susana and Peter Funsten, where Cindy Chvatal and Martin Beck introduced the candidate.

Larchmont Village

At the May 10 semi-annual meeting of the Larchmont Village Neighborhood Association (via Zoom), Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell (the CD 13 incumbent) was the featured speaker. O’Farrell, who has his campaign office on Larchmont Boulevard just south of Melrose Avenue, also took questions from residents about the state of their neighborhood. Resident Maggie Pena brought up the issue of homelessness in the area, which continues to be on the rise.

KATY YOUNG YAROSLAVSKY joined neighbors celebrating the 100th anniversary of the original Larchmont Village shopping district last October.
    Photo by Gary Leonard

“We’ve opened more shelters,” responded O’Farrell, “and we are continuing with safe streetside sweeps. The number of oversized vehicles lining our blocks where many homeless people live will be addressed again at an upcoming Council meeting.” O’Farrell said that these efforts are showing positive results, particularly in the Hollywood area, although the problem persists.

LVNA board member Sam Uretsky focused on Senate Bill 9, adopted by the state legislature last year. SB 9 allows single-family residential properties to be split and increased in density to contain four, or even six, residential units. There is no requirement that such added dwellings be rented at affordable rates. “What concerns me is how this could affect our historic neighborhoods,” Uretsky said. “It would become harder to create more HPOZ (Historic Preservation Overlay Zone) designations.” O’Farrell agreed with him.

Greater Wilshire

The big finale of local city council primary election cam-paign forums took place May 26, also at The Ebell. There, four neighborhood councils from different portions of CDs 5 and 13 — specifically, Echo Park (CD 13), Greater Wilshire (CD 5 and CD 13), Mid City West (CD 5) and Palms (CD 5) — co-sponsored “A Night of Candidate Forums.” Presented both in-person at The Ebell and via live stream, the event was organized to allow attendees to “better understand candidate policies and platforms.”

For each portion, the first for CD 5 being moderated by Elex Michaelson of Fox 11 News, and the second for CD 13 being moderated by Patty Lombard of The Ebell and the “Larchmont Buzz,” each candidate gave responses of up to two minutes to the same question. The audience numbered approximately 60 to 70 people for each session. On YouTube, the CD 5 portion is recorded at:

THE DINING ROOM of the Ebell Club was the setting for “A Night of Candidate Forums” that featured candidates for both Council District 5 and Council District 13. Shown are the candidates for CD 13, from left: Albert Corado, Steve Johnson, Mitch O’Farrell, (Moderator Patty Lombard), Kate Pynoos and Hugo Soto-Martinez.

tinyurl.com/4p7ybt22, and the CD 13 portion is recorded at:

Further information about the candidates for the most-local elections is available at:

City Council District 5
Jimmy Biblarz
Scott Epstein
Katy Young Yaroslavsky
Sam Yebri

City Council District 13
Albert Corado
Steve Johnson
Mitch O’Farrell
Kate Pynoos
Hugo Soto-Martinez

– Nona Sue Friedman and Wendy Werris contributed to this article.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: News

Leave a Reply

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