Following Councilmember Nury Martinez’s resignation from office last year, a special election is being held on April 4. Ballots will be mailed out soon. If no candidate received a majority of the vote in April, a run-off between the top-two vote-getters will be held in June. Our editorial sent out surveys to the seven candidates, all of whom responded, to get a sense of where they stand on the issues. We will be publishing their responses, lightly edited for clarity. Their responses are presented in the order in which they responses to the survey.
Question: Recent polling by our newspaper showed more than half (58%) of Los Angeles resident said the city is headed in the wrong direction, with majorities citing a perception of rising crime and homelessness. What do you think?
Isaac Kim: “We need change. I am not the status quo. I will bring a new attitude and perspective to the role. Actively looking for solutions and pursuing goals, I am an operator who wants to do good for our neighbors, district, and city.”
Rose Grigoryan: “I think not only these issues but also the negative outlook on the city’s current direction can have a profound impact on quality of life and the well-being of communities. Thus, it is important for the city leaders to listen to the concerns of its residents and aim towards creating a safer and more inclusive community for everyone.”
Antoinette Scully: “I don’t believe that crime is rising since studies show that it has been decreasing for decades. The perception of rising crime shouldn’t dictate how we make decisions about our policing and should inform how we connect with our communities. I do believe that homelessness is rising and that death and other crimes against unhoused people are rising. I think we should be using twice the funding we use for social services and public care.”
Imelda Padilla: “I think that rising crime and homelessness are two of the most pressing issues we are facing in Los Angeles and it will be my top priority to address these crises immediately if elected to serve as council member for District 6. We need to address these problems at their root, which in large part are economic and health related. I will work across the aisle in city council and across all levels of government to marshall the resources this monumental task will require. I will also work with all stakeholders, including residents, community organizations, business leaders, faith-based groups, and health organizations to develop and operationalize sensible solutions that make our communities safer, more sanitary and sustainable. The status quo is not working. We need fresh ideas in City Hall and leaders ready to be bold at addressing the unsheltered community.”
Douglas Sierra: “While reports from the LA District Attorney’s office cite a stagnation of crime, we still feel like our neighborhoods are becoming more unsafe, forcing us to raise our families elsewhere. Many of my high school classmates no longer live here for that reason. The American Dream of homeownership is getting out of reach. I want to reverse course in this way of thinking and ensure that our city looks and feels safe to live in— whether you’re walking your kids to school or running errands to the grocery store. There shouldn’t be the worry of someone breaking into your home or getting accosted on the route home with your children.”
“I believe significant changes need to be applied to the culture and policies of public safety and policing. Studies have also shown that blighted land and abandoned lots that litter our district increase the perception of crime and violence within urban and suburban areas. Our city can and should be working proactively to transform said lots into parks and affordable housing that seeks to address the housing crisis and the needs of our district as a whole. In my tenure, I will advocate for a restructuring of community safety commissions and support infrastructure investments to beautify our city and hopefully reduce the causes of violence and crime at a systemic level.”
Marco Santana: “I would agree and I believe the rise in crime and homelessness is reflective of how broken City Hall’s approach has been in addressing these issues. Each councilmember has taken a different approach to the unhoused residents within their districts, acting as if homelessness is a problem they can ignore if it’s on the other side of their council district’s line. They have taken a piecemeal strategy to what is ultimately a regional problem. I want to work with my fellow councilmembers, our Board of Supervisors, and our new mayor to make sure that we have a unified approach.”
“I stand for safe neighborhoods and safe schools. We ask our law enforcement officers to deal with too many issues they are not equipped for – like mental health calls and unhoused individuals – when they should be working to address violent crime. One of the simplest ways we can do that is by expanding CIRCLE (Crisis and Incident Response through Community-Led Engagement), a program designed to help law enforcement focus on crime suppression and prevention by diverting non-emergency calls related to homelessness.”
Marisa Alcaraz: “I think City Hall’s most significant function is to protect Angelenos and make our communities safer. Our criminal legal system of over-policing and imprisonment is broken, and we need transformational change. We can create brighter futures and safer neighborhoods by investing deeply in holistic care that considers the whole person and includes access to quality medical and behavioral healthcare, community-led intervention, better neighborhood schools with culturally appropriate teaching staffs, job and entrepreneurship training, mentorship programs, and caring, comprehensive support networks for families and individuals in crisis. Putting people on track for success through programs such as these and catching them with care before they slip into the criminal legal system is less expensive than maintaining a failed, exploitative system of prosecution that disproportionately harms Black, Brown, Indigenous, and poor communities.”