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Friday, June 14, 2024

CD 10 candidates, including Grace Yoo, unite on expanding seats

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From left: Grace Yoo, Eddie Anderson, Dennis Comer, Heather Hutt, Reggie Jones-Sawyer, and Aura Vasquez.

Candidates for the Los Angeles City Council District 10, which encompasses Koreatown, engaged in their inaugural debate in anticipation of next year’s election. Among the forefront contenders for the LA Council District 10 seat is Grace Yoo. Every candidate, including Grace Yoo, the only Korean American in the running, voiced the importance of augmenting the council seats to 25 or more to enhance public services.

In a virtual debate orchestrated by LA Forward on September 6, six prominent candidates declared their standpoints on urgent matters such as city governance reform and anti-corruption. The participants included Grace Yoo (attorney), Eddie Anderson (pastor), Dennis Comer (former federal official), Heather Hutt (sitting Councilmember), Reggie Jones-Sawyer (State Assemblymember), and Aura Vasquez (entrepreneur).

The unique composition of the debate was evident: five African American contenders with Yoo as the sole exception. It also highlighted the seasoned political experience of the current city council member and state representative.

Structured around five predetermined questions, each candidate had 90 seconds to express their perspectives on topics such as deploying unarmed officials for patrolling, endorsing “social housing”, increasing council seats, guaranteeing residents’ mobility rights, and strategizing for climate change.

“We possess the tools and expertise, but lack leaders who harness them efficiently,” Yoo remarked.

Heather Hutt commented, “I am the inaugural African American woman representing the 10th District. Born and bred here, my experience working with state and federal legislators equips me to cater to the city’s needs.”

Aura Vasquez shared, “Raised by black and Latino parents, I migrated from Colombia to the U.S. Understanding the immigrant sentiment first-hand, having been an undocumented student in L.A., I can empathize with the immigrant narrative.”

A consensus emerged during the debate regarding the expansion of City Council seats, with numerous candidates suggesting a surge to 25-30 seats.

According to Reggie Jones-Sawyer, more responsive council members are requisite, but the total allocation for their salaries should remain unchanged.

Grace Yoo emphasized the need for transparent zoning decisions and an independent city ethics office, adding, “Better representation equates to improved service.”

Hutt, part of the L.A. Governance Reform Project after a racial slur incident in 2022, proposed a 25-seat expansion. She emphasized, “We need heightened representation from Asian American Pacific Islanders and the LGBTQ community. It’s time for a 2024 November ballot initiative.”

The September 6 virtual debate witnessed an active participation of over 100 viewers, including several from the Korean American community, who expressed their views in real-time.

BY BRIAN CHOI    [ichoi@koreadaily.com]