Margin of Votes Widens in Tight L.A. City Council Race


In a close race for the Los Angeles City Council District 4 seat, David Ryu, a community health executive running in his first political race, inched closer to advancing to the May 19 runoff after the city clerk’s office released updated vote tallies on Thursday.

Ryu and council aide Carolyn Ramsay were the top two finishers in the March 3 primary for the District 4 seat, which covers the area from Sherman Oaks to the Miracle Mile. Because no candidate in the 14-person race earned more than 50 percent of the vote, the race is heading to a runoff.

However, at the close of the primary, only 61 votes separated Ryu’s second-place finish from the candidate most closely trailing behind him, nonprofit leader Tomas O’Grady. Based on Thursday’s updated tallies of vote-by-mail and provisional ballots, Ryu has widened his lead by 149 votes.

In a statement issued Thursday, Ryu expressed confidence of holding on to that lead until final election results are certified on March 24.

“It now looks like our campaign has successfully made it into the general election and I am grateful for the opportunity to continue my fight to bring a fresh perspective to City Hall,” Ryu said. “Our campaign will remain focused on knocking on doors and listening to residents, one neighborhood at a time.”

O’Grady has not conceded, however, and vote counting is not finished. There are roughly 1,300 provisional ballots left to be counted in the District 4 race and a final update won’t come until next week.

In a statement posted to his website Thursday, O’Grady, who is director of EnrichLA, said that “based on our strong showing on Election Day, it is possible that we make up this difference.”

“I want you to know that if we were behind 250 votes today, I would be conceding the race. We will know so much more by the end of next week,” O’Grady said.

For now, Ramsay is leading with 15.3 percent of overall votes, whereas Ryu is in second place with 14.62 percent. O’Grady has 13.98 percent of the votes.

Ryu, a 39-year-old Korean American who is director of development at the Kedren Acute Psychiatric Hospital and Community Health Center, was the top fundraiser in the District 4 race, having raised more than $400,000. If he advances to the May 19 runoff and wins, he would be the first Asian American L.A. City Council member in 22 years.

Earlier this week, the county Democratic Party endorsed Ryu over Ramsay, former aide to the termed-out City Council member Tom LaBonge. “Our members chose to endorse David Ryu because of the activist nature and tone of his campaign,” party chair Eric C. Bauman told the Los Angeles Times.

Meanwhile, Ramsay has picked up the endorsement of City Council president and 10th District councilmember Herb Wesson, who was challenged in the March 3 primary by Korean American attorney and activist Grace Yoo.


Featured image courtesy of David Ryu