The Westside is Still Progressive

Mike Bonin
4 min readJul 27, 2022

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June primary results show progressive candidates dominated in Westside neighborhoods.

If you follow NextDoor.com or some of the area’s online news sources, you might have been shocked by one of the big takeaways of the June primary election: the Westside remains a progressive political stronghold.

An analysis of the final returns show progressive candidates and ideas thrived on the Westside. The cynical attempts to exploit homelessness and crime to lure voters to support conservative candidates and reactionary policies failed.

The precinct breakdowns of June’s vote show that, after years of a MAGA-minded minority driving the narrative, launching attacks, and pushing recalls, 11th District voters pushed back and embraced the candidates who support smart, progressive solutions to homelessness and crime.

In hotly contested open seats, Westside voters strongly supported progressives Karen Bass, Kenneth Mejia, Erin Darling, Lindsey Horvath, Lola Smallwood Cuevas, Tina McKinnor, and the reform minded judicial candidates of The Defenders of Justice slate.

(I’m proud to have endorsed them all.)

In the mayor’s race, 11th District voters chose Bass over Brentwood resident Caruso, 48% to 41%. Bass swept Mar Vista, Del Rey, West LA, Ladera, nearly all of Venice, most of Westchester, and part of Playa del Rey and Brentwood. Progressive activist Gina Viola got 4.5%, and Kevin DeLeon won 3%, making the progressive vote 55%.

The mayoral vote by precinct, from the LA Times. Caruso is in green and Bass in in purple.
In this image from the LA Times, showing the mayoral vote, Caruso is green and Bass is purple.

In the Controller’s race, a CPA named Kenneth Mejia, who dared to challenge the size of the police budget by putting it on billboards across the city, won more than double the votes of a councilmember who had the backing of the entire establishment.

In the City Council race, the top vote getter was the only candidate willing to stand against new laws that criminalize homelessness and push it from block to block. Erin Darling was brave enough to stand up for what’s right and what works (housing) and voters rewarded him.

Darling did so even though he was outspent 10–1, and the conservative candidate of the special interests, Traci Park, got obscene financial support from corporate landlords and police unions. Darling was surely helped by renters, who know he will be their champion on the council.

In the race to succeed Sheila Kuehl on the LA County Board of Supervisors race, progressive Horvath carried the Westside. She was a strong supporter of Measure J. She’s a fighter for housing and for reimagining public safety, and she will take on the old guard special interests.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who staged multiple media stunts on the Venice Boardwalk while housing exactly zero people, lost badly in District 11, with the combined votes of his challengers nearly tripling his own. Villanueva, who was counting on talk radio and opponents of homeless housing to give him a big victory on the Westside, carried only a handful of precincts, and even lost most of Venice, which he considered a solid base after his months of strutting around the boardwalk trying to get credit for the great work of St. Joseph Center and other agencies that successfully and permanently housed people who were living on the beast last summer. Clearly, Westside voters saw through his cynical game, and voted against his disgraceful record overseeing an agency known for police violence and civil rights violations.

In this image from the LA Times, showing results in the sheriff’s race, Robert Luna’s precincts and rust colored and Villanueva is light blue.

In open state legislative races, strong and unapologetically progressive women, Smallwood-Cuevas and McKinnor, carried the district. McKinnor has been sworn into the assembly already to fill a vacant seat, and will be on the ballot in November for another term.

And all four members of the Defenders of Justice — a slate of criminal justice reform-minded lawyers running for LA County Superior Court Judge — did well enough to finish in the top two and earn a slot to compete in November. Together, Holly Hancock, Anna Reitano, Carolyn Ji-Young Park, and Elizabeth Lashley Haynes are finally bringing a strong and unapologetically progressive movement to judicial races.

All of these results are a stinging repudiation of voices like the rightwing Westside Current, (which covers news with the objectivity and perspective of a British tabloid, while shilling for Villanueva, the police union, and criminalization of homelessness) and the leaders of the recall movement, who made endorsements that were a kiss of death.

These results are also a strong sign that the lies and distortions the Right used to demonize San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin won’t work in LA against our reform-minded DA, George Gascon. Voters here will insist on continuing the hard and necessary work of criminal justice reform — which makes us all safer.

The Westside has changed a lot since I first moved here over 30 years ago. But this area is still sticking to its progressive roots and supporting candidates committed to the vital work of reimagining public safety and making sure everyone in our city has a home.

These fights for a better LA have just begun. We need strong progressives to see them through. We have candidates who are ready for the challenge. They deserve our support and our hard work to help them win in November.

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