The high price of buying your vote

There were billboards, paid “volunteer” precinct walkers, robo calls, catered meals and mailers. And more mailers.  All these things added up and made for costly campaigns to elect new representatives for Council District 1 (Cypress Park, Highland Park, Lincoln Heights and Mt Washington) and Council District 13 (Atwater, Echo Park, Silver Lake and East Hollywood). More than $4 million was spent in support of the four candidates who competed in the run off election. That figure can  still rise higher as final expense reports are filed.

Those whose campaigns attracted the most cash, however, did not always win. In Council District 13, John Choi, whose campaign attracted more than $1.5 million in contributions and independent expenditures, lost to Mitch O’Farrell, who chalked up less than half that amount. Meanwhile, in Council District 1, the $1.6 million backed the winning campaign of Gil Cedillo. In contrast, only about $714,000 was pumped into the campaign of rival candidate Jose Gardea.

Despite all that spending, the polling booths were hardly mobbed. In fact, only about 19% of registered voters citywide bothered to mail in or cast their ballots in person.

Here’s how much each of the Council District 1 and Council District 13 finalists spent on every vote they won:


Source: Most recent figures from City Clerk and City Ethics Commission.


  1. Scott Piotrowski

    I am very disappointed to admit that I live in CD1 today. The election of Gil Cedillo as our Councilmember will solidify the role of Northeast Los Angeles as also-ran in the council. Under Councilmember Reyes some things were looking promising. Under Councilmember-elect Cedillo, we can assume laughing-stock status. A five mile freeway tunnel? Sure, no problem. Digital billboards? No, not in Hollywood or Downtown but the Northeast will happily take them. I have very little hope of anything useful coming out of the office of our soon-to-be-sworn-in-Councilmember. (Of course, in fairness to Cedillo, I have very little appreciation of politicians in general of late, so he is only ranked slightly lower than the rest.)

  2. At least in CD13, it was a triumph of community over carpetbagging.

  3. You said “cool” you are so cool.

  4. lets hop mr cedillo will start by cleaning up his represented district. he can start by coming thru mt washington and removing all of the signs his campaign have placed on my private property without permission or compensation.

  5. [Pointing to John Choi]


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