LOS ANGELES — A month ago, things weren’t looking good for the re-election chances of City Councilman Gil Cedillo.
A young activist, challenger Joe Bray-Ali, had forced Cedillo into a runoff after the March 7 primary election and the Los Angeles Times and council colleague Mitch O’Farrell both endorsed Bray-Ali over the former state legislator.
On May 16, Cedillo’s worries were over after he overwhelmingly was re-elected to a second term representing Council District 1 on the City Council.
Cedillo received 70 percent of the vote, with Bray-Ali receiving just under 30 percent.
“Those voters in the 1st District are smart,” Cedillo told his supporters at an election night celebration. They chose experience. … They chose someone who wants to bring people together.”
Bray-Ali actually received a larger percentage of the vote in the March primary when Cedillo received 49.8 percent, just under the required 50 percent plus one needed to avoid a runoff.
But Bray-Ali lost the endorsements of The Times and O’Farrell in late April when a series of racist and derogatory statements he had made online came to light. One of the posts included the racial slur known as the N-word, and others appeared to mock overweight people and the transgender community.
Following the revelations, Bray-Ali was denounced by numerous civil rights and LGBT leaders in Los Angeles, and seven City Council members called for him to drop out of the race.
Bray-Ali at first apologized for remarks, then contended some of them were being taken out of context. He declined to pull out of the race.
Cedillo was the only council incumbent forced into a runoff election this year. No council incumbent had been unseated by a challenger since Nick Pacheco lost to Antonio Villaraigosa in the 14th District in 2003.
Cedillo had a long list of endorsements, including Mayor Eric Garcetti, eight City Council members, Gov. Jerry Brown and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.
“Congratulations to Gil Cedillo on his well-deserved re-election that ensures we can continue building stronger neighborhoods and standing up for the most vulnerable Angelenos,” Garcetti said in a statement.
Council District 1 includes Chinatown, Highland Park, Westlake and other northeast Los Angeles neighborhoods.