Voters in Southern California have launched yet another bid to remove a politician ahead of the regular election cycle — this time targeting a Los Angeles city councilwoman who’s been in office for just six months.
CD4 for CD4, a campaign committee formed last month, served Councilwoman Nithya Raman with a recall notice outside her Silver Lake home Wednesday. On its website and elsewhere, the committee argued that Raman’s office is inexperienced, unresponsive and too politically radical for her constituents to endure a full four-year term.
Raman, 39, did not respond to each of the group’s claims. But in a statement, the councilwoman said she is focused on her “broad progressive agenda” — helping renters, small businesses and people experiencing homelessness, among others.
“I love the people and the neighborhoods of this district. That’s why I ran to represent it,” she said. “I invite the organizers of this recall to work with me on making it an even better place to live, work, and raise our children.”
Assuming that its paperwork is in order, CD4 for CD4 would need to collect more than 27,000 valid signatures between July and early November to get a recall on the ballot in Raman’s 4th Council District, which stretches from Hancock Park north to Sherman Oaks and east to Silver Lake.
Raman defeated Councilman David Ryu by a comfortable margin in November, becoming the first council candidate at City Hall to oust an incumbent in 17 years. She is far from the only politician in California to experience a recall threat.
Gov. Gavin Newsom is already scheduled to face voters in a recall election this year, while foes of L.A. County Dist. Atty. George Gascón have begun gathering signatures for their own countywide recall bid. Critics of Councilman Mike Bonin are laying plans for a recall effort — one that could run smack into next year’s election schedule if it is not launched soon.
Raman won her seat last year with support from some influential leftist political groups, including the L.A. chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. Recall backers have highlighted Raman’s working relationship with that organization, which favors the abolition of police departments and prisons, saying it is one sign that the councilwoman has a “far left radical agenda.”
Allison Cohen, the committee’s lead recall proponent, criticized Raman over her office’s approach to homelessness and for supporting a plan to cut Los Angeles Police Department staffing by 250 officers. She also questioned Raman’s decision to go to Echo Park Lake in March, when scores of activists protested plans for removing a homeless encampment with nearly 200 tents.
“Emails are not returned. Calls are not returned. People have been trying without success to get meetings with her,” Cohen said. “Yet she shows up in Echo Park as part of that protest situation. It’s not even her district.”
Cohen, the editor and publisher of the Los Feliz Ledger, said residents are also upset that Raman came out against a planning department proposal for height limits on stretches of Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood and Hillhurst Avenue in Los Feliz.
Jesse Zwick, a spokesman for Raman, has argued in recent months that the councilwoman’s stance will spur the construction of more affordable housing. Raman, for her part, said her office has provided outreach to dozens of homeless encampments that had “long been neglected” and worked to restore park funding.
“We’ve worked with constituents in every single neighborhood of the 4th District to effectively address their concerns,” she said.
Under the city’s rules, Raman has 21 days to respond to the recall notice, if she chooses. The 120-day period for gathering signatures would begin July 7 — as long as the city has approved the petition form, said Jinny Pak, who manages the city clerk’s election division.
To qualify for the ballot, recall proponents will need to gather valid signatures from 15% of registered voters in Raman’s district.
If they succeed in that effort, L.A.’s chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America will probably step forward to help the councilwoman. Erin O’Neal-Robinson, co-chair of that group’s electoral politics committee, called backers of the recall effort “right-wing extremists who are throwing a tantrum” and said voters made clear last year that they wanted Raman.
“She’s one of our candidates. We’re going to support her however we can,” she said. “But time will tell what shape that takes.”