Image courtesy Ysabel Jurado

Ysabel Jurado is a single mother and tenants’ rights attorney. She is a lifelong resident of Highland Park, describing on a recent podcast that the community was vibrant and noisy when she was growing up. 

In the interview with former Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin on his podcast, Jurado said that her parents, undocumented immigrants from the Philippines, were “organizers” before they knew what the word meant. They held parties every weekend with no purpose other than bringing neighbors together. “They were always giving a helping hand to people who needed it,” she said.

She continues to live in her family home, saying that even with an attorney’s salary, the rent in Highland Park would be difficult for her to afford.

Jurado earned her law degree from UCLA Law School, where she specialized in critical race studies and public interest law and wrote a paper for the UCLA Law Review entitled “Losing Historic Filipinotown. In 2019, she was a fellow at Bet Tzedek, where she provided services to low-income tenants. She speaks Tagalog and Spanish.

You can also find a video statement (transcript) Jurado made on the City Clerk’s website.

Connections. It’s all about who you know:

In 2021, then Mayor Eric Garcetti appointed Jurado the city’s Human Relations Commission. The resume included with the appointment letter shows that she served a short stint from 2014 until 2016 working in Garcetti’s office.

She was a scheduler, and later a legal assistant and policy aide who helped the mayor’s office with contracts, conflict of interest issues, political research, commission appointments, ethics filings, and managed the CPRA requests. 

As a fellow at Bet Tzedek Legal Services in 2019, she wrote an editorial for Capitol Weekly on protections for commercial tenants and worked with legislators to draft a law. She also helped with local hire initiatives, community land trusts, and zoning plans for Historic Filipinotown. She led presentations on residential tenant protections and legal presentations for small businesses. 

Most recently she was an associate attorney with the law firm Gundzik Gundzik Heeger. Her profile on that website described her as a transactional law attorney.

Fundraising: Who’s handing out the cash?

Relatively few donors cut maximum $900 checks for Jurado, who has raised $197,000 from a variety of sources, and about 17% of that were donations less than $100. That total is dwarfed by the nearly half-million raised by opponent Miguel Santiago, as well as the $331,000 raised by incumbent Kevin de León.

But the amount Jurado fundraised from hundreds of people who only give small amounts and live in the 14th District ended up helping her thanks to a city matching funds program aimed at encouraging candidates to raise funds from everyday voters. It allowed her to boost her campaign budget by another $174,000 to more than $370,000. Jurado has so far qualified for the highest amount of matching funds out of the eight candidates.

That matching funds program also requires candidates to cap their campaign spending, unless independent expenditures exceed a certain amount, which it did at the end of January. In this election, that trigger tripped when the Los Angeles Federation of Labor began pouring money into the race to elect Miguel Santiago, a State assemblymember also running for the 14th District seat. That group and a couple of others, including the Carpenters union, have since spent more than $700,000 on mailers, phone-banking and other campaign communications in support of Santiago.

Jurado has received relatively few donations from groups or committees compared to other candidates running from an existing political office.

Who has donated to her: the Engineers and Architects Association, which gave the maximum $900 amount and also endorsed; PALAD (Pilipino American Los Angeles Democrats); ACCE (Alliance of CA for Community Empowerment Action); Progressive Victory, United Union of Roofers Waterproofers & Allied Workers Local Union 36; and California Women’s List, a PAC (Political Action Committee)

City Controller Kenneth Mejia and Councilmember Eunisses Hernandez, as well as several staffers from those offices donated to her campaign. So have staffers from a few other council offices, including from the 4th and 13th council districts. Molly Rysman, a former top official at the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, and staffer to former County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, also donated to Jurado.

Many of the donations also come from people who work at advocacy groups and public interest law firms that take on issues such as tenant protections, immigration and workers rights.

Other notable donors include Daniel Kwan, the Academy Award-winning director known for the movies Everything Everywhere All at Once and Swiss Army Man, Alvaro Ballesteros who is CEO of John Wesley Health Centers and Luis Lopez, a former candidate for office and a nonprofit healthcare director at City of Hope. She received $129 from Rebecca Ninburg, a former fire commissioner and co-founder of the Derby Dolls.

Spending inside the Campaign:

One of the biggest chunks of Jurado’s campaign spending has been on campaign workers – more than $102,490 on pay for 25 people. Meanwhile, her campaign has spent $22,887 on mailers or campaign literature, a minuscule amount compared to what’s being spent by more typical campaigns.

Her campaign has spent about $85,000 on campaign consultants. They include Walker Foley, who has worked on other City Council campaigns like that of Loraine Lundquist and Hugo Soto-Martinez, Left Flank Strategies, SC Strategies, AJ Campaigns and People First Campaigns.

Gifts and income:

Jurado’s Form 700 State of Economic Interest states that she received income last year from working at a law firm, Gundzik, Gundzik and Heeger.

Endorsements, and what’s being said about them

Jurado is endorsed by LA City Councilman Eunisses Hernandez and Controller Kenneth Mejia. Knock LA’s voter guide recommends her. While the LA Times endorsed her opponent Miguel Santiago, that publication’s editorial board described Jurado as also being a “strong candidate.” Jurado is also endorsed by La Defensa, the LA County Public Defenders Union and LA Forward (progressive advocacy organization that supports political campaigns), Ground Game LA, and DSA-LA.

Jurado’s responses to Unrig LA’s questions about good governance issues – such as democracy vouchers, lobbying, ethics reform, council size, charter reform and public comment – can be found here

She is also the top CD14 pick of comedian and creator of Adam Ruins Everything, Adam Conover; Nick Andert who puts out the Transit Voters Guide, Olga Lexell (a TV writer involved in transit issues), and Kris Rehl, a 2020 Democratic National Convention delegate and organizer with LA Street Care, which coordinates mutual for unhoused neighbors.

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