LA Election: Gil Cedillo, Monica Rodriguez win council seats in close race

A former city Public Works commissioner emerged victorious Wednesday in the race to fill a San Fernando Valley-area City Council seat, while Councilman Gil Cedillo was celebrating a commanding re-election win over an opponent whose campaign fizzled amid a wave of questionable internet posts condemned by critics as derogatory and racially insensitive.

Cedillo, who narrowly missed being re-elected during the March primary, crushed challenger Joe Bray-Ali in Tuesday's runoff, completing the downfall of a once-hopeful challenger.

Bray-Ali turned heads when he forced Cedillo into the runoff because he has never held elective office, and no incumbent has been beaten in a City Council election since 2003. He picked up more momentum when he received the endorsements of the Los Angeles Times and Councilman Mitch O'Farrell.

However, Bray-Ali lost both endorsements in late April when a series of racist and derogatory statements he had made online came to light. One of the posts included the racial slur known as the N-word, and others appeared to mock overweight people and the transgender community.

Following the revelations, Bray-Ali was denounced by numerous civil rights and LGBT leaders in Los Angeles, and seven City Council members called for him to drop out of the race.

Bray-Ali at first apologized for remarks, then contended some of them were being taken out of context. He declined to pull out of the race. Cedillo had a long list of endorsements, including Mayor Eric Garcetti, eight City Council members, Gov. Jerry Brown and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California.

The 1st Council District includes Chinatown, Highland Park, Westlake and other northeast Los Angeles neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, the 7th District race between Monica Rodriguez and Karo Torossian was neck-and-neck throughout election night, but Rodriguez slowly pulled ahead, finishing the night with about 53 percent of the vote.

The 7th Council District includes includes Sunland-Tujunga, Mission Hills, Pacoima and other neighborhoods in the northeast San Fernando Valley. Rodriguez and Torossian were facing off for an open seat, which was vacated by Felipe Fuentes last year when he resigned to take a job as a lobbyist.

Rodriguez and Torossian emerged from a 20-candidate field in the primary. Rodriguez is a former Public Works commissioner who has also worked as an aide for some past council members, while Torossian is the director of
planning and environment for Councilman Paul Krekorian.

The race became a showdown between two City Hall insiders, with Torossian receiving Krekorian's endorsement, while Rodriguez has been endorsed by Garcetti, who appointed her to the Board of Public Works.

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