LOS ANGELES — Wendy Carrillo, a community activist and a former radio host who ran on a platform of equality for women at work, and a single payer health care program in California, will face Luis Lopez, a board member of Planned Parenthood and advocate of affordable housing in a Dec. 5 runoff election to decide the winner for the 51st Assembly District seat.
The pair received the most votes Oct. 3 in a special election to fill the vacancy left when Jimmy Gomez was elected to Congress in June.
Carrillo collected 3,604 votes in 129 precincts, compared to 3,283 votes for Lopez.
“Let’s go win this seat for the hard-working families of #AD51,” Carrillo posted in her Facebook portal after she clinched the first-place spot.
Carrillo will find in Lopez a seasoned opponent for the post. Lopez unsuccessfully ran in 2012 for the same Assembly seat, losing to Gomez in the runoff.
“Thank you neighbors! We won tonight based on strong relationships of trust throughout our district,” Lopez said. “This push to victory was earned by our volunteer army of hundreds. Now onto the Dec. 5 runoff.”
The Los Angeles County Registrar’s Office reported 8, 577 mailed-in ballots, and 8,733 votes cast at 129 precincts. Voter turnout was under eight percent.
Mike Fong, a Los Angeles Community College District board member, came in third place with 2,852 votes, followed by attorney Gabriel Sandoval and dermatologist Ron Birnbaum.
Carrillo served as communications aide for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in 2016, and challenged Councilman Gil Cedillo in the March 2017 primary for the city’s First District office.
Carrillo, a former communications manager for the Service Employees International Union, received the union’s support of $314,000 in mailers and canvassed on her behalf.
She voiced support for a $15 minimum wage in California, the Affordable Care Act and programs to eradicate homelessness and increase the supply of affordable units in the district.
After her victory, Carrillo received the endorsement of Jimmy Gomez.
“Wendy Carrillo will make an excellent Assembly member for the people I represented in the California state Legislature,” Gomez said. “She is a proven working class progressive who understands that she must represent everyone in the 51st District.”
An immigrant from El Salvador brought to this country when she was 5 years old, Carrillo graduated with a master’s degree in communications at USC, earned a bachelor’s degree from Cal State Los Angeles and a community college diploma from East Los Angeles College.
Lopez reported contributions for $118,584 during the race and expenses of $106,995, and said Carrillo spent more than $170 per vote, compared to $61 invested on each of his.
“Despite being outspent by six of our opponents, we prevailed and we’ll fight on to the general election,” Lopez said.
Lopez earned a master’s degree in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School at Harvard University, and works in the nonprofit health care cancer research organization City of Hope in Duarte.
Born in East Los Angeles, Lopez was a social science analyst with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, D.C., and a manager of data projects with KPMG Consulting Inc.
Lopez ran on a platform to close the Scholl Canyon landfill in Eagle Rock, supports a universal health care system in the state, and promised to eradicate homelessness in the 51st Assembly District.