Imelda Padilla in a superhero cape. Marisa Alcaraz at the dojo wielding a sword. 

These are just some the campaign mailers residents of Council District 6 have received as outside groups have spent hundreds thousands of dollars trying to influence the race. 

As of Friday, June 23, Alcaraz and Padilla’s campaigns, along with the independent expenditure committees that are trying to get their respective champions elected, have spent more than $1.5 million on just this general election. The two are seeking the seat left vacant after Nury Martinez, the former council president, stepped down last October amid the leaked audio scandal. Polls close on Tuesday, June 27th. 

Based on the city’s Ethics website, each campaign has spent in the six figures to try to win the race. They have additional help from independent expenditure committees, which are not allowed to coordinate with the campaigns directly. 

Where is the money coming from?

Both candidates are relying on public matching funds to help them win the seat. They each earn those funds by raising small dollar donations from people who live in the district. Alcaraz received $278,403.14 over the primary and the current general election, while Padilla qualified to get $344,967.08

The candidates and outside committees have substantial resources to help raise awareness among voters about the special election’s candidates — as well as to potentially start some beef, with mailers increasingly using City Hall scandals, both recent and old, as fodder to attack either candidate. 

While the outside groups in the race have made it clear which candidate they are supporting, what they want on the issues they lobby on are entirely unclear. Lobbyists are currently not required to state their position on the issues they talk to city officials about. Proposed changes to the municipal lobbying ordinance, which is now being considered by the city council, includes a recommendation to require that lobbyists include this additional information in their disclosures.

Alcaraz is primarily backed by labor groups

Alcaraz has dominated by drawing on the support of labor groups, and she recently garnered the support of the Los Angeles Federation of Labor, a powerful umbrella group for the area’s unions. Such union support can come in the form of spending that leads to not only mailers and other advertisements, but also door-knocking and phone calls.

Independent expenditure groups have spent more than $600,000 over the primary and the general elections to get Alcaraz elected, as of Monday, June 26.

The Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters’ union, a construction workers union to which Alcaraz’s father belonged, has spent the most out of the supporters. The union’s support has been prominent in her campaign. During her kick-off event in May, a member of that union said Alcaraz would create good jobs, including through the Panorama Mall redevelopment project. The Carpenters have lobbied the city in the past on a variety of development issues, including community plans, as well as on an ordinance that would have restricted the use of wood building materials. 

Alcaraz is also getting boosts from committees for other labor organizations, such as the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770, a grocery workers union that credited Alcaraz with her work on “hero pay” policy that increased the wages for grocery workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The grocery workers union earlier this year lobbied the mayor’s office, the city attorney’s office and the City Council on “food industry policies,” according to the Ethics website. 

A billboard company, Outfront Media, also spent $20,000 in May to put up a billboard supporting Alcaraz.

Padilla has support from the soda lobby, a major landlords association, and the firefighters’ union

Padilla has described her trajectory during the race as being propelled by her qualifying for public matching funds the earliest, during the primary. The process of soliciting small dollar donations from people who live within the 6th district was arduous, she said, but it opened the doors for her to be taken seriously. She has continued to garner various endorsements, including from big name politicians of the area, and major players at City Hall, and various groups that have thrown independent expenditures her way.

Padilla is getting “independent expenditure” support from a diverse set of sources, totaling almost $700,000, as of Monday, June 26, during both the primary and the general. Soda industry money heavily funds the outside pro-Padilla groups. Those independent expenditure groups receive much of its funding from a group that has gone by several names, including “LCCC PAC” and also “Restoring California’s Promise” that bills itself as a “coalition” for Latino appointed and elected leaders. Those groups in turn receive large amounts of funding from the beverage industry, usually through the American Beverage Association. The soda industry has lobbied public officials on soda taxes being introduced by cities. LA city has not carried soda tax legislation, however. Instead, one of the biggest soda groups, the American Beverage Association, recently lobbied the city’s sanitation department on sustainability issues. 

The California Apartments Association of Southern California, a group that represents landlords and that has closely watched recent city legislation on renter protections, has spent in Padilla’s favor.

Labor groups are also spending to support Padilla. They include Laborers Local 300, a construction workers union that lobbies the city on various building projects, and the Service Employee International Union United Service Workers West, a union for janitors and airport service workers that has lobbied the city on airport-related issues. The firefighters’ union, which regularly lobbies the city on budget issues, has also come to be a major supporter, recently paying for television ads in Armenian.

Also spending money to try to get Padilla elected are the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, a San Fernando Valley-based business group that has lobbied the city on transit and business tax issues in the past.

The Central City Association also gave to one of the pro-Padilla outside groups during the primary, an influential, downtown-based group that in the most recently reported quarter, has lobbied city officials on a wide variety of issues such as homelessness, citywide inclusionary zoning, affordable and interim housing, the convention center expansion, a downtown community plan, city government reform, unarmed emergency response, and increasing the foot beats of LAPD officers, just to name a few.

Look up more campaign finance information, as well as the mailers and other communications material each candidate and the IEs are sending out, on the 6th district race here. You can look up lobbying activity about the organizations spending money on the candidates here.

Elizabeth has been on the local government beat since 2006, and likes making her friends take public transportation for her birthday.