In Tuesday’s District 4 L.A. City Council election, political newcomer David Ryu beat Carolyn Ramsay, the candidate backed by most business organizations, in the race to replace Councilman Tom LaBonge, according to provisional results released Wednesday.
Ryu captured 11,200 votes to Ramsay’s 9,600 in the district, which stretches from the Miracle Mile to Sherman Oaks. LaBonge has served on the council for 14 years and could not seek re-election because of term limits.
As candidates, Ryu and Ramsay did not differ much on the issues. Both supported phasing out the city’s gross receipt tax and speeding up transportation improvements in the San Fernando Valley. They also agreed that the minimum wage needed to be raised.
Their similarities on the issues led the L.A. County Business Federation, or BizFed, to count them among four “preferred” candidates in the March 3 primary. They ended up the two top vote getters in that race, which drew 14 candidates.
So even though Ramsay ultimately lost, Ryu was not seen as bad for business interests.
Still, business groups had shown a clear preference in the run-off for Ramsay, who touted her experience at City Hall as the former chief of staff for LaBonge. She was supported by Mayor Eric Garcetti and Council President Herb Wesson and gained the endorsements of the political action committee of BizFed and the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.
She also had a lead on Ryu in fundraising having received $355,490 in the general election as of the most recent filing period ending May 2, while Ryu raised $292,350.
Ryu has never held elected office and was the director of development and public affairs with L.A. non-profit Kedren Acute Psychiatric Hospital and Community Health Center. He positioned himself as the outsider who would bring fresh perspective and ideas to city government.
Credit for Ryu’s victory is being given to precincts adjacent to Koreatown where he received 75 percent to 85 percent of the votes, according to the provisional results.
Ryu is the first Korean American to be elected to the Council and only the second Asian American. Mike Woo, a Chinese American, represented the neighboring 13th District from 1985 to 1993.