Northeast Edition

Special election set in 34th Congressional District

LOS ANGELES — Wendy Carrillo said she is running in the April 4 congressional special election because “I want to unapologetically fight for progressive causes and take the resistance to Congress.”

“My candidacy is the product of the unique moment we find ourselves in as a nation,” Carrillo said in response to a set of questions from City News Service. “I’m livid, I’m taking action, and I want to lift up the voices of California’s 34th District.”

Carrillo was the first candidate of the 23 on the ballot to respond to questions. She is among 19 Democrats on the ballot in the overwhelmingly Democratic 34th Congressional District.

Carrillo is a Boyle Heights resident who will be listed on the ballot as a “journalist/community advocate.” She produced the public affairs program “Knowledge is Power” on KPWR-FM (105.9) for the past 10 years “where I’ve listened to the issues Angelenos faced.”

Carrillo fled her home in El Salvador as a child, was raised in City Terrace, graduated from Roosevelt High School, received a bachelor’s degree from Cal State Los Angeles and a master’s degree from USC, according to biographical material supplied by her campaign.

Carrillo said she learned when she was 13 years old that she was in the country without legal permission, She eventually was able to obtain legal status and became a citizen before turning 21.

The field also includes Eagle Rock Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, who has received the most big-name endorsements in the race and is considered the favorite. Former Los Angeles school board member Yolie Flores also is on the ballot. Both are Democrats.

There is one Republican on the ballot, business owner William “Rodriguez” Morrison and one candidate each from the Green and Libertarian parties, certified public accountant Kenneth Mejia, and tenants’ rights paralegal Angela E. McArdle, respectively.

Immigration law administrator Mark Edward Padilla did not state a party preference.

Also filing were: Robert Ahn, a public interest attorney; Vanessa Aramayo, a nonprofit director; Maria Cabildo, an economic development director; Alejandra Campoverdi, a multicultural community advocate; Arturo Carmona, a presidential campaign adviser; Ricky De La Fuente, a businessman; Adrienne Edwards, a community organizer; Melissa “Sharkie” Garza, a businesswoman and producer; Sara Hernandez, an education nonprofit director; Steven Mac, a military officer and prosecutor; Angela McArdle, a tenants’ rights paralegal; Sandra Mendoza, an educator and public administrator; Raymond Meza, a community organizer; Armando Sotomayor, a community volunteer; Richard Sullivan, an attorney; Tracy Van Houten, an aerospace engineer; and Tenaya Wallace, a civic engagement strategist.

Ahn is the only Korean candidate on the ballot and could become the first Korean-American elected to Congress.

Campoverdi worked in the White House from 2009 to 2012, first as an assistant to a deputy chief of staff and later as deputy director of Hispanic media. She also is a former employee of the Los Angeles Times and told the newspaper in an interview that her California upbringing and experience in Washington make her well-suited to represent the district.

“I have a personal connection to the struggles of the people in this district, and I know how Washington works,” said Campoverdi, 37, who grew up in Santa Monica.

Wallace said she would record and upload all meetings with lobbyists so constituents can see exactly what she is being asked to support and bring a film crew with her to Washington. She also promised to raise no more than $5,000 and is asking supporters to donate time and talent instead of money.

“People say I have to raise serious money to be a serious candidate but constituents I have spoken with want ways to engage and make a difference, not write another check to another candidate,” Wallace said.

Wallace served nearly four years on the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council and was outreach chair for the Venice Neighborhood Council formation committee.

Meza, the external organizer coordinator with Service Employees International Union Local 721, says “we need a new type of voice in Washington.”

“Voting the right way and saying the right things are no longer enough,” he added. “I will refuse to compromise with Donald Trump as he attempts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and tear apart our communities. I will be a steadfast voice for our vision for a just country where the minimum wage is 15 dollars an hour, health care is universal, education is a right, immigrants of all colors and religions are valued members of our community, women’s reproductive rights are guaranteed, and we confront the serious impact of climate change.”

The special election was necessitated when Xavier Becerra was appointed California’s attorney general, succeeding Democrat Kamala Harris after she was elected to the U.S. Senate last November.

The district approximately stretches from Koreatown in the west to the Long Beach (710) Freeway in the east and from the Santa Monica (10) Freeway in the south to the Ventura (134) Freeway in the north. It includes downtown Los Angeles, the Westlake district, Highland Park, Eagle Rock, Boyle Heights and Lincoln Heights.

If no candidate receives a majority vote April 4, a runoff between the top two finishers will be held June 6. Because of the large field, no candidate is expected to receive a majority.