LOS ANGELES — City Councilman Gil Cedillo was officially sworn in for his second term June 12 by City Clerk Holly Wolcott after a strong victory in a runoff election over challenger Joe Bray-Ali on May 16.
Cedillo’s second term serving the 1st Council District actually does not begin until July 1, but he took the oath during a ceremony in his office at City Hall.
Cedillo said fighting homelessness is his top priority for his second term. The results of the 2017 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count found that homelessness has grown 20 percent in the city over the last year.
“We should collectively have a goal to end homelessness in the city of Los Angeles,” Cedillo told City New Service and pointed to Measure HHH, which was approved by city voters in November and will raise $1.2 billion to build housing for the homeless, as a prime way to move toward the goal.
Cedillo is a member of the Homelessness and Poverty and the Planning and Land Use Management committee, and the chair of the Housing Committee and the Ad Hoc Committee on Immigrant Affairs and Civil Rights.
Due to the aggressive action of President Donald Trump on immigration and the housing shortage the city is facing, Cedillo is poised to have a prominent voice on what are arguably the three biggest issues facing the city — housing, immigration, and homelessness.
“I don’t know if there is anything more important than those three — housing, immigration and homelessness. They are so critical to the social fabric of the city, and so we have to resolve those,” Cedillo said. “I don’t know what’s bigger than that, frankly.”
Cedillo has been one of the council’s most outspoken critics of Trump, and the Immigrant Affairs and Civil Rights Committee has passed numerous motions opposing Trump’s agenda of increasing deportations on immigrants who are in the country illegally.
“I don’t think people really appreciate how disruptive the Trump agenda is,” Cedillo added. “I don’t think people really appreciate how disruptive an agenda that is separating families is to the city of Los Angeles.
“It undermines our economy. It undermines our prosperity. And it is just really harmful to the social fabric of the city, so we have to confront it. We have to oppose it and we have to combat it.”
During the election campaign, the Los Angeles Times endorsed Bray-Ali, which gave a boost to the bicycle activist who had never held elected office.
In the March primary, Cedillo fell just short of the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff, and with The Times endorsing Bray-Ali again and Councilman Mitch O’Farrell also throwing his support behind the challenger, it looked as if Cedillo could be facing a difficult runoff.
However, Bray-Ali’s support quickly eroded when a series of derogatory, inflammatory and racist statements he made online came to light which offended members of the LGBT and African-American communities and others.
The Times and O’Farrell pulled their endorsements, numerous organizations and city officials denounced Bray-Ali, and Cedillo cruised to an easy victory with over 70 percent of the vote.
In its endorsement of Bray-Ali, The Times said Cedillo was “unresponsive to and dismissive of constituents” along with being too cozy with developers.
“I think the results of the election indicate otherwise,” Cedillo said when asked about the criticism from The Times.
“We accept criticism that we were not fully staffed and not fully focused on constituent services and we have already begun to rectify that and will continue to rectify that. That I take as a valid criticism. I heard it from the voters.”
Cedillo served in the Assembly and state Senate before his election to the City Council in 2013.
Cedillo said he thinks the council tends to work in “silos” more than the Legislature and take on a single issue at a time, rather than take an expansive view, and pointed to the recent debate over making developers pay for affordable housing through a “linkage fee” proposed by Mayor Eric Garcetti as an example.
Cedillo is critical of the plan and said it would fall short of creating a significant amount of new housing.
“If we think this is the whole solution we are really making a mistake,” Cedillo said.
“There’s a sense — and I’ve said this publicly and in forums — I don’t want people to think we are solving the problem. And people get attached to process and to the battle and they’re not looking at how we should approach the war.
“We need to step back and marshal enough resources to really raise funds that we can then commit to build the housing that we need.”
Cedillo’s term is set to last 5 1/2 years, longer than the typical four years, due to a move to sync the terms to even-numbered election years.