After winning the Council District 1 seat in the May 21 runoff, former state lawmaker Gil Cedillo plans on making public safety and job growth the hallmarks of his upcoming term.
Cedillo, who declined to be interviewed directly by The Eastsider, will “improve the basic quality of life” by upgrading public safety measures, bringing in affordable housing and piggy-backing on the revitalization in Downtown L.A., according to campaign assistant Jennifer Rivera. She said the councilman-elect, whose district stretches from Highland Park and Mt. Washington to Lincoln Heights and Angeleno Heights, will use his connections with business leaders and labor unions to bring good paying jobs to the district, which is the third poorest.
“Anything [that] brings good paying jobs will be carefully looked at,” Rivera said.
Rivera said the councilman elect picked Arturo Chavez, a former district director for Cedillo during his time in the state senate, as his council chief of staff. The rest of his staff picks are unknown at this point. Chavez did not comment at this time.
Cedillo defeated Jose Gardea, Chief of Staff for current First District Councilman Ed Reyes, in a costly race marked by large amounts of independent expenditures, which are not limited by city rules, that were poured into the campaign by employee unions, billboard companies and other business interests. The most recent tally compiled by the City Ethics Commission showed that the Cedillo campaign and its allies spent more than $1.6 million to win the race.
While Gardea has won the support of many neighborhood activists and groups and an L.A. Times endorsement, Cedillo won the backing of the political establishment and focused on the need to bring more jobs to the district.
Cedillo promised to reach out to the community to ensure development is responsible, which, according to the staff member, Cedillo defines as a process where all parties abide by the city codes and “does not infringe on the quality of life” in the neighborhood. The councilman-elect has a history of bringing groups together, said Rivera, which he will continue during discussions on development, which will likely include plans by Barlow Hospital to build at least 600 housing units on its Echo Park property.
“Not everyone will be happy,” Rivera said. “A good project is when everyone leaves a bit unhappy and a bit happy.”
Cedillo, who supported immigration reform, including the DREAM Act, will continue addressing the issue on the city council.
Cedillo’s campaign generated controversy after billboard companies, which are embroiled in a dispute with the city over digital billboards and super graphics, supported his candidacy. Rivera said her boss was not ready to comment on the issue. She went on to say that the councilman-elect had no control over the independent political groups, backed in part by outdoor advertisers. They will receive “no favors” or “special treatment” because of their support, she said.
Tony Cella is a freelance reporter who has covered crime and grime in Los Angeles, New York City and the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. Click here to contact Cella with questions, comments or concerns.