David Ryu is the current councilmember for the City of LA’s 4th District. To give you an idea of his political agenda, your landlord probably supports him.
Now I don’t usually pay a lot of attention to local races, but I took notice of this one because I kept hearing good things about his challenger, urban planner Nithya Raman, from comedians on Twitter. After doing research I found that I liked the fact that Nithya is a young progressive who supports defunding the police and solving LA’s affordable housing crisis. I also found myself attracted to her candidacy because, unlike David Ryu, she has never been accused of raping anyone.
“Wait a minute. No one has ever accused her of raping them? In her entire life? Even during college?” I thought to myself when I first heard of Nithya’s candidacy. “How is that even possible? This lady is too good to be true.”
If her lack of sexual assault allegations were not enough, my vote was further sealed when she was endorsed by Bernie Sanders, the moral leader of the modern progressive movement and a man who only endorses progressive stalwarts unless they are running against Donald Trump for President.
Unfortunately, after doing a lot of research on these two candidates and getting legitimately pumped to vote for Nithya I realized that I don’t actually live in District 4 because Los Angeles’s City Council map is so batshit insane that I am apparently an idiot for assuming that because I have friends in D4 that live less than three blocks north, south, east, and west of me that I too lived in the same district. Well, you know what they say happens when you assume something: You inadvertently realize that the entire system of democracy which governs every decision that impacts your community is broken.
It turns out that I live in some weird unincorporated island for reasons literally no one can explain to me. And believe me, I tried, going so far as @ing who I thought was Mayor Eric Garcetti but who turned out to be a parody account called @MayorPooPooPeePeeBitchBoy. I also tried Googling the answer but the only thing that came up was more articles about when David Ryu was accused of rape.
So now I’m stuck with a head full of information about Ryu and Raman that I can’t use to vote on and I’ll have to go to my unincorporated grave knowing Ryu collected tons of money from the LAPD before it became unfashionable and is being funded by developers behind an app that makes it easier to evict people or that Nithya is running on a policy of rent forgiveness and is supported by Vanessa Bayer.
LA’s tentacled district map contributes to many of the problems that face our community and the feeling by many that LA’s government doesn’t prioritize them over more organized special interest groups like real estate associations or police unions. District 4 stretches from Koreatown to Sherman Oaks and Santa Monica to Silver Lake with plenty of areas in between left unincorporated or as forgotten vestibules technically stewarded by other councilmembers. The sheer size and diversity of this District’s population make it impossible for any representative to adequately advocate, let alone even be aware, of the unique issues that affect the discrete communities that make up the District. The result is that we get representatives like Ryu who cater to “high-impact” special interest groups like real estate developers, police unions, and landlords that can donate a lot of money.
Nithya, to her credit, has obtained community support from across the District, but the fact that her grass-roots candidacy is so unprecedented is as much an indictment on how LA has structured its government as it is her impressiveness of her as a candidate.
So…I don’t live in District 4 and probably won’t ever meet Vanessa Bayer, but if I did meet her I would tell her I to want Nithya Raman to be on LA’s City Council because she cares about the big problems that face Los Angeles and has a vision for how to fix them. But, because of how LA has drawn this District I know that once elected she couldn’t possibly know all of the small problems that face the diverse communities that make up District 4.
I hope that Nithya Raman wins and that once she is in office she advocates redrawing the City Council map so I don’t have to feel like such an idiot next cycle and the people that actually live within District 4’s nonsensical boundaries can finally get a representative who doesn’t have to go on four fucking freeways to meet all of their constituents.