Councilman O’Farrell & L.A. Times pulls endorsement for council candidate Joe Bray-Ali over online comments controversy [updated]

Councilman Mitch O’Farrell (left) and Joe Bray-Ali

Council District 1 candidate Joe Bray-Ali was hit today by the political fallout from revelations that he had posted comments on several controversial online forums. 13th District Councilman Mitch O’Farrell withdrew his endorsement made only three weeks ago in the race between Bray-Ali and incumbent Gil Cedillo, and the L.A. Times, in a rare move, also rescinded its support.

It is rare for a member of the L.A. City Council to endorse a candidate seeking to unseat an incumbent council member. Relations between O’Farrell and Cedillo, whose districts share a common border, have been strained at times, and the Bray-Ali endorsement probably did not help matters. “This city faces daunting challenges and we need someone like Joe to bring a fresh perspective, new ideas, and an open mind to decision making for our city,” O’Farrell said in his endorsement earlier this month.

O’Farrell had initially said he would stand by his endorsement after Bray-Ali apologized for the comments, the L.A. Times reported. But this morning O’Farrell had changed his position and issued a statement withdrawing his endorsement:

“I saw in Joe Bray-Ali a person with deep roots in the 1st district, a passion for public service, and an independent approach to addressing the challenges facing Los Angeles…but I am deeply disappointed by his highly insensitive comments in online forums that breed hate and dehumanize already marginalized communities. People that I love and care about are hurt by these comments. There is no place for this type of speech anywhere, especially in the City of Angels, and I am concerned he has compromised his ability to be an effective leader. Therefore I can no longer support Joe Bray-Ali for Los Angeles City Council.”

The L.A. Times editorial board this afternoon followed suit, saying:

“The revelations are so deeply disturbing — raising serious questions about both his judgment and his character — that The Times has re-evaluated its original position. For the first time in recent memory, the editorial board is officially rescinding its endorsement.”

The Times endorsement during the primary election was a big win for Bray-Ali, whose campaign lagged far behind Cedillo in fundraising but still managed to force the incumbent councilman into a runoff. The Times did not indicate whether it would endorse Cedillo in light of today’s decision.

Earlier today, the East Area Progressive Democrats also withdrew its support for Bray-Ali. “However puzzling and out of character his previous statements are, they undercut the candidate’s claim of readiness to represent all the people of our diverse Eastside neighborhoods,” the group said in a statement.

Last week,  Bray-Ali apologized for a nine-year-old YouTube video clip in which he posed a question to the “¡Ask A Mexican!” column.

The Cedillo campaign has scheduled a  press conference this morning to denounce Bray-Ali’s comments.

The runoff election is scheduled for May 16. The First Council District includes all or portions of Angeleno Heights, Cypress Park, Echo Park, Glassell Park, Highland Park, Lincoln Heights and Mount Washington. Don’t Know What District You Are In? Go Here

This story has been updated with news of the L.A. Times withdrawing its endorsement

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  1. And thats supposed to change the way I feel about Gil? Puleeze. I’m still voting for Ujbray (as he is known when he posts on this site)

  2. Good.

    I am generally impressed with O’Farrell. He seems to take his job and commitment to the people of Los Angeles seriously.

    I wish I could say the same about Gil Cedillo as he is the only choice for district 1 now. We can only hope that he will begin his new term humbled and with a renewed commitment to serve his constituents in the manner they deserve to be served. He has shown some willingness to work for his people recently by standing up to council members Koretz and Ryu who are trying to put up hurdles for lower income and regular income people to be able to build low cost granny flats in their backyards.

    The people of Los Angeles deserve to have the best people represent us on the council, not the worst. People who frequent and participate in racist forums are the worst.

  3. These revelations show “Ujibray” to be a loose canon who may even hold a mean streak that targets oppressed groups. Initially he explained his participation in disturbing online forums as “dialog” or “research,” which only made the stain spread. O’Farrell, who put his neck on the line to support JBA, should have been accorded the respect of a disclosure of the risks that Joe must himself have known. The election is over for all practical purposes.

    When Gil is on his game, he can be a very effective representative. So, when he wins, let’s put his feet to the fire to pick up the pace and leave behind his tendency to indifference. The boundaries of these two districts require cooperation, brainstorming and resources sharing. Example- the LA Rive and its connection to regional cycling routes.

    I sincerely hope that O’Farrell will openly apologize to Cedillo and seek ways to support him. In equal measure, I hope that Cedillo will carefully assess his own faults in his past term, bury the hatchet with O’Farrell and get on with the work of being a more engaged and representative Councilmember.

    How about a petition of constituents on both sides urging cooperation between CD1 and CD13? These two will need a real, face to face sit down where they leave their staff behind.

  4. bathing at baxter

    On yer bike Joe.

  5. Totally let down with Joe and upset that Cedillo might win for sure. Cedillo’ steam in ineffective, unresponsive, and doesn’t respond to the entire community. Mitch’s team is efficient, responsive, and very accessible. Wish we had Mitch in CD1!

  6. Let’s not totally lose our heads over this… the guy wrote some dumb/insensitive comments online. He’s not a full-blown racist, not even close. I’m sure Cedillo has said some things in his life that he regrets, or that would be deemed tone-deaf and bigoted by some.

    Case in point: He made the following comment on the City Council floor…

    “Maybe because I’m getting older, but I yell at people and I honk at them because they do stupid things. I mean, who crosses Temple six lanes, 5′ o’clock in the afternoon with their child?” – Gill Cedillo

    Several pedestrians (including children) have been killed and/or seriously injured on Temple, in his district, in recent years. That comment alone is (arguably) worse than anything I read from the LAist article.

    Two wrongs don’t make a right, but just seems like people are blowing this way out of proportion. Must be Trump fatigue, hehe.

  7. hellLA loses all respect for Councilman O’Farrell & L.A. Times for pulling endorsement of council candidate Joe Bray-Ali over online comments controversy!

  8. Cedillo is probably the most hateful fear-monger in all of D-1. He was grinning while a supporter told ladies at Zumba class that they would ALL be deported if Bray-Ali won. Desperate way to earn a vote. https://www.wevideo.com/hub#view/900100675

  9. The side story in all of this is Cedillo when threatened is willing to put in good amount of resources to find as much dirt on you as possible and beat you that way as oppose to the merits of his policy. I can’t imagine someone have a big enough grudge to scour Reddit and find Joe’s account along with that past OC article. Gil comes out just as dirty (dirtier if youve lived here long enough) in my eyes. None of this is northeast policy and just classic ol’ image tear down. That being said I cant find myself voting Cedillo but definitely second thoughts for Joe.

    • i really doubt this last story came from the cedillo campaign. the reporter was a freelancer for LAist – why would the campaign go there when in the last two stories they went directly to the same Times reporter? give credit where it’s due, dude.

    • What, that would have taken five minutes of work. You have a poor imagination. He uses the same username on every site!

  10. Bray-Ali and Cedillo are both horrible options. This has been a mean spirited campaign from both sides. Plenty of mud slinging and dirty politics trying to humiliate each but little to zilch about the issues of the neighborhoods they should be representing. It’s embarrassing to watch.

    Who are our write in options?

  11. I CAN’T picture Cedillo and that overblown ego still in office nor can I picture Bray Ali, NortheastSide getting shafted again!

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