With 40 percent of the CD-11 vote up for grabs and four months to go, Park & Darling will compete for the support of the six eliminated candidates from the June 7 Primary!
By Nick Antonicello
The topsy turvy race to succeed outgoing Council member Mike Bonin that has been reduced to Venice attorneys Erin Darling and Traci Park, and it has the two remaining candidates now competing for the support of the six prior candidates eliminated and the forty percent of the vote they represent.
Candidate Darling as of this writing had a small lead despite entering the race last over Traci Park, who entered the race last July and pushed the notion she was “tough enough” to beat Mike Bonin and his failed street encampment policies.
But Bonin left the race last January after a second recall drive got dangerously close to ousting him from office, so he ended his bid for a third-term when recall organizers compiled some 26,000 signatures that were just 5 percent short of moving forward with a special election.
Sparing himself the embarrassment of what looked like a landslide defeat, Bonin left the race and endorsed Darling, a fellow liberal and progressive who served as a community officer with the Venice Neighborhood Council.
Bonin quickly became “out of sight and out-of-mind” and the race recentered around eight new hopefuls of which none had ever served in public office and only one, Allison Holdorff-Polhill who ran for the LAUSD in 2017 finishing third.
She would later endorse the eventual winner, Nick Melvoin and served as a chief advisor till announcing for the LA City Council last December. Melvoin is now seeking a second term.
So with candidates Darling and Park splitting some sixty percent of the vote, where will the remaining votes transfer come in the November General election?
Venice NC President James Murez has already decided to endorse Park, and donated $100 to her campaign during his ill-fated run.
So where does that leave the remaining five candidates?
Greg Good, who came to the race with a chock full of labor backing as well as the LA Democratic Party’s choice finished out of the money in third-pace with just under ten percent pf the vote.
Good, who was handicapped as a lock to make the runoff never really got started as his affiliation with outgoing Mayor Eric Garcetti became a huge negative and his support of bridge housing became a political anchor around his neck.
His poor showing was certainly the shocker of these primary results.
His positions on the issues best resemble that of Erin Darling, but many believe his rift/split with Mike Bonin will prevent such an endorsement, which leaves Good in political purgatory since Park is right-of-center on the issues most affiliated with Good, and Park is expected to endorse billionaire developer Rick Caruso over US Representative Karen Bass in the race for LA mayor.
Good is said to be backing Bass.
Sources say Park is already heavily courting Good’s endorsement, so it will be interesting to see if he makes that leap-of-faith to Team Park.
Palisades resident Allison Holdorff-Polhill probably ran the most thorough and issue-oriented campaign in the primary and found herself finishing fourth.
The only other woman in the race, “AHP” ran strong with school-age parents and her vote is a game-changer for either Darling or Park.
Running in that moderate, middle lane, both candidates will be aggressively seeking her support in a race where every vote will count.
Venice favorite-son Mike Newhouse, who also sought a middle-ground, moderate alternative to Darling and Park brought the most clarity to the race with his 30-day plan to end street encampments which was attacked viciously by pro-Park backers on Social Media who were clearly agitated when he entered the race in early February.
Of all her opponents, Park’s campaign seemed to target Newhouse the most.
Ironically, Newhouse and Park are neighbors and live just a few doors from each other.
The former two-term VNC president and Harrison Avenue homeowner, father, husband and attorney, Newhouse finished fifth right behind AHP and made some in-roads with traditional Democratic Party support and was able to secure several significant business endorsements that represent a voting bloc that can make or break either Darling or Park candidacy.
Westchester resident and US Army veteran Mat Smith, the only registered Republican and conservative in the race ran a grass roots campaign composed of family members and friends and refused any public financing in what was an energetic effort that was concise on the issue of rampant homelessness and rising crime.
Many believe Smith did extremely well in the numerous ZOOM debates and forums and impressed voters with his use of quotations from Henry Ford to former UCLA basketball icon John Wooden.
Smith was the only candidate that pledged to move the homeless population out of the district and sought a mental health/rehabilitation approach to solving the unhoused crisis. Sources tell us that Smith is making no immediate decisions on what he plans to do moving forward.
That leaves Venice teacher and tenant Soni Lloyd who finished last with less than a 1,000 votes and while he clearly was no supporter of Mike Bonin, his vote seems to be more closely aligned with Darling than Park on the issues.
While the Park supporters will exploit the Bonin endorsement of Darling, some believe Darling has true and embedded support in Venice where he grew up, played Little League and is the only true local in the race with Park the “carpet-bagger” of sorts to this diverse neighborhood.
With so many votes out there to consider, Park might try to motivate the missing recall revelers who did not make it to the Primary last Tuesday in what was a miserable turnout despite the fact the city changed the municipal elections to even number years that afforded the incumbent an additional 18-months in office.
That turned out to be a miserable failure for voters as well as Bonin himself.
Of the six candidates eliminated; Murez, Smith and AHF signed the recall petition. Lloyd, Good and Newhouse did not.
Nick Antonicello is a longtime Venetian covering the CD-11 race for LA City Council and how it impacts Venice. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org