Will Asian-American enthusiasm for Council District 13 election undermine a victory?

Many activists are working to replace termed out Councilman Eric Garcetti with an Asian-American candidate to represent Council District 13, which includes portions of Atwater, Echo Park, Hollywood and Silver Lake. Those activists, however, may have been too successful in getting Asian Americans on the ballot.  On Monday, L.A. Now reported that John Choi, a member of the Board of Public Works, became the fourth Asian American (three Korean Americans and a Filipino American)  to run in 13th Council District election, which will be  held in March 2013.  In the wake of Choi’s announcement, a City News story published by the Daily News said:

The executive director of the Korean American Coalition, who has led much of the fight against the redistricting process, said that while she is happy that voters will be able to choose an Asian American candidate, “there is a little sadness that there are four,” which could split the vote. “I am concerned that the chances of electing an Asian American candidate would be higher without four highly qualified individuals,” Grace Yoo said.

If proposed changes to City Council boundaries are finalized, a little more than 20% of the voters in Council District 13 would be Asian, according to KPCC.

In addition to Choi, who was appointed by Mayor Villaraigosa, the other Asian American candidates include BongHwan Kim, a Korean American and general manager of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment; Emile Mack, a Korean American firefighter; and Alexander Cruz De Ocampo, a Filipino American.   The race, which has so far attracted a dozen candidates, also includes Latinos, Whites and Armenian-American office-seekers.

It has been more than 20 years since Mike Woo – the last Asian American to sit on the City Council – served as representative of the 13th Council District.


  1. I think it’s important to remember that not everyone who takes out papers and announces for a position like this necessarily ends up running for the office. For many it’s exploratory — “do I have enough support; can I raise money” or even, “can putting my name on the ballot early dissuade some others who might draw from the same demographics from actually entering the race.” Then, by the time their final paperwork is due, the numbers dwindle down to half or one-third of those who’ve announced intentions actually having their names appear on the ballot. It’s likely most of the new(er) names we’ve heard lately for this or any heavily populated City contest will not be there when we get our sample ballots in the mail.

  2. What happened to voting for character and political philosophies? I look forward to future articles concerning his knowledge, experience and service to our communities.

  3. Why is race an issue?

    I hear one candidate had to be driven around the community in order to learn its geographic boundary. How well can one serve a community from a limo?
    Also, Echo Park should note that BongHwan Kim approved the rental space
    of the GEPENC office without perhaps ever checking the location. The location is, from what some have learnt, in violation of Building Codes…

    When will the candidates debate?

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