Eight people are on the ballot in Los Angeles City Council District 14’s primary election ending on March 5. Below, you’ll be able to access original research on each candidate, as well as thorough information about Los Angeles’ 14th Council District and links to more resources for you to conduct your own research.

Below is a list of the eight candidates aiming to represent the district. By clicking on their name, you’ll jump to another page that provides details on who the candidate is, where they come from, and who they know.

Immediately below the list of candidates is more general information about Council District 14, and links to more resources that you can use to conduct further research.

LA Public Press also jointly hosted a candidate forum with Boyle Heights Beat with most of the candidates competing. You can view it by clicking here.

The Candidates

Overview of City Council Seat

The Los Angeles City Council is the lawmaking body of the city. It meets three times a week, as required under the city charter. Its representatives have wide ranging powers beyond lawmaking, including the provision of public services, as well as discretionary approval over projects and other initiatives within their own jurisdiction.

This is a four-year term that begins Dec. 9, 2024. The salary is $231,173.96.1, which is pegged to superior court judge salaries. A maximum of three terms can be served

There are a total of 15 council seats across the city. Even-numbered districts like this one are on the ballot during presidential election years, and odd-numbered districts in the midterm years.

The seat is currently held by Kevin de León, who is running for re-election. 

Where is the District?

Los Angeles’ 14th Council district is on the eastern edge of the city and includes the communities of El Sereno, Boyle Heights, Eagle Rock, parts of Lincoln Heights and most of downtown LA, including the Historic Core, the Civic Center, Little Tokyo, the Arts District, and Skid Row.

In the past, the district has functioned as a springboard for politicians with higher office aspirations, including former LA mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Incumbent Kevin de León unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2021 while representing CD14.

District facts

CD14 is one of the most renter-heavy districts in Los Angeles. In Boyle Heights renters are 75% of residents. It’s even higher in the Downtown Los Angeles area where 93% of residents are renters. There is a lower percentage of renters in some of the northeast communities, where owner-occupied units are higher than the citywide average.

The district is home to about 265,000 people. It is majority Latino, with 16% white, 6% Black and 14.7% Asian. For people who are voting age and citizens, white, Black and Asian voters are over-represented relative to the demographic makeup of the district, according to data provided by the chief legislative analysts office during the 2021 redistricting process. Latinos are less proportionately represented, but still a majority of voters in the district.

Based on the latest homeless count by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, there were more than 9,200 people homeless in the district on a given night – more than any other individual council district in Los Angeles.

Residents of the 14th Council District are also evicted more often than residents of any other district, according to the City Controller. From February 2023 until December 2023, there were more than 10,000 eviction notices issued in this district. According to the same office, more than 300 people who were unhoused died in the 14th District in 2022 – more than any other single council district in Los Angeles.  

Other useful tools for better understanding the council district and the city on the controller’s website: Council Office Spending, City Spending, LAPD Arrests, Shelter Bed Availability, Public Property, Cost of Living Crisis, Evictions Notices, Cash for Keys. More data and audits can be found here. The previous controller also rated communities in Los Angeles on an equity index that looked at disparities around socioeconomic factors, the environment, education and access to resources. 

In addition to the controller’s efforts, the city offers datasets that can be used by the public to learn about various aspects of how the city runs on its Open Data website. They also have created hubs using that data around different topics like disparities of mortgage lending in L.A., and to create neighborhood profiles that include information about demographics, recreational resources, health, transportation, education and public safety.  

More about the communities in the district can also be found here at the Los Angeles Times mapping project, though there are no political boundaries, and the census data is from the previous 2000 census: Highland Park, Boyle Heights, Glassell Park, Eagle Rock, Montecito Heights, Mount Washington, Lincoln Heights, El Sereno, Boyle Heights, Downtown.

The city also has a network of neighborhood councils that are advisory boards to the city. Each board is given an amount of money to spend on community programs, can weigh in on and receive information early about development projects, and have extra time when presenting a resolution stating positions on city matters to a public body, including the City Council and commissions. 

The neighborhood council board members also often relay and communicate community issues to other city officials, like the city councilmembers, the mayor, the controller and other agencies – as well as participate in the city budgeting process. In the 14th District, those boards largely mirror the geographic communities. 

Those councils are the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council, Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council, Hermon Neighborhood Council, Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council, LA-32 Neighborhood Council, Lincoln Heights Neighborhood Council, Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council, Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council, Arts District Little Tokyo Neighborhood Council.

Isn’t there an incumbent?

Kevin de León, the incumbent councilmember, is seeking re-election. He faces seven challengers fighting to convince voters they are the one to represent CD14 residents in City Hall. Voters must choose among eight candidates in the primary. Given the number of candidates, there will likely be a runoff election in November if no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote in the March primary election.

Kevin de León is one of the people caught on tape making racist and homophobic statements with other Latino political leaders while discussing redistricting in 2021. De León has faced consistent calls to resign since, and even President Joe Biden called on all involved to resign. Today, de León is the only person on tape who remains in public office. 

What’s at stake for communities in the district?

Gentrification is a major issue that weighs on voters and residents in the 14th District. The district’s communities — stretching from Eagle Rock to Boyle Heights and Downtown Los Angeles — all are affected in some way. 

High housing costs and ongoing displacement have led to residents organizing against continued fracturing of communities as families and businesses, who have lived and operated in the area for generations, depart for more affordable regions, often far away. 

That process continues today with a spate of “legacy” businesses continuing to close due to increasing rent pressure from commercial landlords. Phoenix Tso wrote for LA Public Press about the beloved cafe Suehiro and other businesses, like the Anzen hardware store, becoming part of the latest wave of businesses forced to close down.

The intensified displacement has also provoked pushback from the residents. Amanda Del Cid Lugo has reported for LA Public Press on the proposed Tiao development. If it manifests, the six-story apartment building would replace an existing building with residents and businesses, including a restaurant and a community space called Re/Arte. Each time an existing, occupied building is slated to be replaced, it reignites concerns about gentrification and displacement of the existing community. Most of the 50 proposed units of the project are planned as market-rate housing, accessible to those with an income far above the median in the immediate neighborhood. 

Five of the planned units are designated as affordable housing units, in which rents would be subsidized using a traditional “density bonus” method of creating “affordable” housing, defined as being subject to government determined price limits.

This story is echoed elsewhere in the district. Lincoln Heights, part of which is in the 14th District, has also faced gentrification battles, as in El Sereno.

In contrast to some of the most expensive residential rents in the city in recently built high-rise apartment buildings, CD14 is also home to the most number of unhoused people of any district in Los Angeles. Skid Row is in CD14, where many homeless services providers and shelters are concentrated due to a public policy of “containment” instituted during the 20th century.

In 2020, business interests in the 14th District’s Downtown Los Angeles and Skid Row areas sued the city and the county, accusing public officials of failing to address the homelessness crisis. The group, which calls itself the LA Alliance for Human Rights, was led by Don Steier, a longtime attorney for the Central City East Association, a not-for-profit group that in 1985 helped to create the Downtown Industrial Business Improvement District that is funded by assessments of property owners

The lawsuit settled in June of 2022 with the city agreeing to shelter or house 60% of the people who are unsheltered LA City – enough new shelter beds or “housing solutions”  for 12,915 people distributed across the entire city. Moreover, the settlement sets the stage for LA to implement citywide or council-specific public space enforcement against unsheltered people who, in the eyes of the city, decline “offers” of shelter or housing. A 2023 settlement in the same lawsuit saw Los Angeles County agreeing to provide 3,000 mental health and substance abuse beds

In February of this year, the LA Alliance filed a motion accusing the city of failing to meet milestones it had agreed to in its settlement agreement, and demanding the city pay a fine of $6.4 million. The city has responded with a motion opposing the accusation, saying the city has been in compliance.

Meanwhile, the luxury Oceanwide towers, which have stood vacant amid the fallout of the developer pay-to-play scandal perpetrated by a former 14th District council member, Jose Huizar, have recently become a symbol of the economic disparities within this district.=

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