Last night’s election results showed some major victories for L.A.’s bicycling community, along with some painful losses.
Along with a number of cases where we have no idea how the winners stand on issues important to Los Angeles cyclists.
In the most important race, however, we can claim a clear victory as Eric Garcetti and Wendy Gruel both qualified for the May runoff election. Then again, victory in that race was a given, as all five major candidates for mayor were on the record with the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition for their strong stands in support of bicycling in the City of Angels.
So regardless of who wins in May, we can expect at least another four years of support from the mayor’s office. And hopefully, continued progress on the streets.
City Council is another matter, as a several bike supporters fell to defeat, while a number of other candidates either won outright, or qualified for a runoff without responding to the LACBC’s survey or taking a public stand on the issues that affect our right to ride and safety on the streets.
In District 1, Jose Gardea took a strong stand in support of bicycling, while Gil Cedillo failed to respond. This district has long been represented by termed-out councilmember Ed Reyes, who has been a strong supporter of bicycling.
District 3 was won outright by Bob Blumenfield last night. He failed to respond to the survey, so we currently have no idea whether he supports bicycling; we’ll have to wait until he casts his first few votes in City Hall to get a feel for where he stands. He replaces Dennis Zine, who hasn’t always been a friend of bicyclists.
Felipe Fuentes claimed an outright victory in District 7 without completing the bike survey; he replaces Richard Alarcón, who was not always a reliable voice for bikes.
In District 9, of the two candidates who qualified for the runoff, current state Senator Curren Price did not respond to the survey, while Ana Cubas did, promising to work with the LACBC to make L.A. a more bike-friendly city. However, Price did take a stand in support of bicycling when he ran for the Senate in 2009.
District 11’s Mike Bonin won election outright last night. Not only did he complete the LACBC survey, I’m told he’s an even stronger supporter of bicycling than Bill Rosendahl, the councilmember he replaces, who has been the bike community’s best friend on the city council.
The crowded field in District 13 resulted in a runoff between Mitch O’Farrell, who has been one of the strongest candidate voices in support of bicycling, and John Choi, who failed to respond.
Finally, District 15 was won outright by incumbent Jose Buscaino, who failed to complete the survey.
While I’m disappointed that some of the leading voices in support of bicycling, such as Odysseus Bostick in CD11 Josh Post in CD13, failed to qualify for the runoff, strong bike supporters either won outright or made the runoff in both districts.
Meanwhile, Emanuel Plietez, who was featured here recently, was always a long shot to qualify for the runoff; in fact, he finished last among the major candidates for mayor. However, he has a lot to offer the city and the bicycling community, and hopefully we see his name again in another race in the not-too-distant future.
The bigger disappointment, however, was the lack of turnout by L.A. voters. And L.A. cyclists.
Just over 285,000 people bothered to turn out for the election, a pathetic 16% of eligible voters. And far less than the estimated 400,000 regular bike riders who live in this city.
We have the power to permanently change this city and its streets for the better. But L.A. will never be the city it can and should be until the bike community gets off its collective ass and into the voting booth.
The LACBC will redouble its efforts to get all the remaining candidates in the runoff on the record for where they stand on bicycling issues. Including the race for City Attorney between Mike Feuer and incumbent Carmen Trutanich, which makes the all-important decisions on how bike and traffic laws are interpreted and enforced in the city, and who gets charged with breaking them.
But it’s up to you to get out and support the candidates who support us.