Process versus litigation in city attorney’s race

| September 29, 2022 | 0 Comments

Hydee Feldstein Soto and Faisal Gill took very different paths to becoming candidates for the position of city attorney, and they express different approaches to the job. They are running to replace termed-out Mike Feuer.

Feldstein Soto: the accidental candidate
Hydee Feldstein Soto retired ten years ago from her legal practice as a partner in corporate law firms specializing in bankruptcy and acquisitions. After a decade out of the legal fray, what made her decide to run for office?


“I’ve lived here for 40 years. I’ve never seen the city in as bad straits as it is today,” Feldstein Soto begins. She bemoans the fact that so many people she knows have left Los Angeles and states, “I am not willing to leave without … seeing if there’s something I can do to make things better.”

“I am not looking to start a career in politics at the age of 64. … I see myself running as an accidental politician.”

Gill: history of political ambition
Faisal Gill has had a varied career in and out of the political sphere. In 2003 he was spokesperson for the American Muslim Council and that year was also appointed policy director for the Dept. of Homeland Security, where he was investigated for, then cleared of, lying on his application. It was later revealed in material leaked by Edward Snowden that Gill was one of several prominent Muslims kept under surveillance, beginning in 2006.

Being targeted for his religion, as well as experiencing hardship as a Pakistani immigrant, was critical in forming Gill’s lifelong commitment to civil rights and fighting government overreach in his plaintiff-oriented legal practice, which favors litigation to address grievances. As an example, he litigated and won a case against the city proving racial profiling.


Gill first ran for office in 2007 as a Republican for a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates, which he lost. He ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat for a Vermont state senate seat in 2016. He was elected interim chair of the Vermont Democratic party in 2017. The Los Angeles City Attorney election is nonpartisan.

Feldstein Soto wants to make things easier
“The first job of city government is to keep people safe, keep our streets functional … keep things clean, enact the kinds of ordinances and regulations and have the kind of constituent services that make people want to live here,” Feldstein Soto emphasizes. “And a lot of that is not big sexy work.”

The Puerto Rico-born attorney describes herself as a transactional lawyer, one whose “job is to get a deal done … to find the way to make things work,” which means streamlining the approval process for building housing or starting a business, for instance.

Gill has big plans
“I think the City Attorney’s Office can do big things like getting involved in criminal justice reform,” announces Faisal Gill. “My job is not just to advise every single city department but it’s also to make sure that they’re following the law and take action when they’re not.”
Gill emphasizes that he is a litigator. “I’m somebody who’s been in court pretty much my entire life, criminal and civil.”

It’s no surprise, then, that he wants to “beef up the affirmative litigation division that exists in the City Attorney’s Office. … We can do that to go after businesses that are violating [such things as] environmental laws.”

Feldstein Soto puts public safety front and center
Feldstein Soto thinks the perception of rising crime is more important than quibbling over crime statistics. She points to flash mobs and backyard intrusions and believes, “We need to put public safety front and center … because the city that doesn’t feel safe is a city divided.”

Feldstein Soto takes note of hate crimes, “especially in the AAPI [Asian American and Pacific Islander], Jewish and the African American community.” Hate crimes have an outsize effect on public safety perception because, “A hate crime is really intended to terrorize an entire community, and it succeeds.”

Feldstein Soto is concerned about long police response times and suggests that maintaining a visible community presence is crucial. “Getting to know the neighborhood…makes a difference to the perception of safety.”

Gun safety is also an issue Feldstein Soto wants to address. She focuses on “gun violence, restraining orders, keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people. I would love to draft an ordinance that closes the loophole on unregistered weapons, whether that’s at a swap meet or purchasing online or ghost guns.”

Gill prioritizes criminal justice reform / public safety
“Misdemeanors are being prosecuted, in my view, too much,” Faisal Gill states. He points out that even a misdemeanor conviction can affect someone’s ability to find a job or get housing.” Gill promises to favor diversion programs over prosecution.

Gill plans to issue a 100-day moratorium on prosecuting minor misdemeanor offenses. He explains, “I’m going to sit down with all stakeholders … and see which crimes we should not prosecute.” He also notes that limiting the number of misdemeanors prosecuted would help free up time in clogged courts.

Gill says he wants to work with the Los Angeles Police Dept. to go after the proliferation of guns, especially ghost guns.

He intends to work on a narrow interpretation for Los Angeles of the Supreme Court’s ruling that gave New Yorkers the right to carry concealed weapons. “I was a guy who was a very big gun activist,” he admits. “But after what happened in Sandy Hook, I don’t know how anybody can actually think that there is not a problem with guns.”

Gill also intends to use his office to support more diversion programs for youth, such as the police-run Little Rams football program in Watts.

Feldstein Soto: bring the homeless indoors
When it comes to homelessness policy, Feldstein Soto cuts right to the chase. “I want to focus on solving our shelter and housing issue so that we can bring people indoors,” she says. “Turning the great outdoors into the safety net for our society is an abdication of our responsibility collectively, not just our city, but our county, our state, our federal government.”

“I do think that a social safety net includes the basics of life.” She details, “That’s housing and healthcare and food and water and the things that people need to survive. A just and wealthy and compassionate city will do all that. But a just and wealthy and compassionate city also has to be in a position to keep its streets clean.”

On enforcing Los Angeles Municipal Code Sec. 41.18, which disallows encampments around schools, Feldstein Soto states, “I don’t believe it’s a city attorney’s job to invalidate any constitutional and validly passed law.” She believes that as long as it isn’t a pretext, there is legal precedent for buffer zones for safety reasons, citing space cleared around abortion clinics and high transmission voltage lines, as examples.

Gill: remove impediments to building homeless housing
“Homelessness is the main issue that’s facing Los Angeles,” Faisal Gill states. “I want to work with city council and the mayor and make sure that whatever legal impediments exist to building transitional housing, temporary housing and permanent housing are removed.”

Gill is opposed to criminalizing the unhoused by prosecuting them for such things as vagrancy and trespassing. His website explains, “Homelessness is a housing issue, a public health issue and an economic issue.”

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