One of the surprises of the Los Angeles mayoral campaign was given by Councilman Gil Cedillo when he endorsed candidate Rick Caruso. The great unknown is who Councilman Kevin de León, who failed to advance to the general election in November, will give his support to, placing third in the primary vote.
“He has business experience and understands small business. He is willing to make a commitment so that Latinos are seen at every level of Los Angeles society,’ Cedillo said at an event at the Nicaraguan restaurant in Pico Union where he gave Caruso the accolade, and to which many Latinos arrived with banners reading “Latinos for Rick Caruso for Mayor” (Latinos for Rick Caruso for Mayor).
He stated that if you want to know what Caruso is going to do as mayor, just look at his career.
“He has always been there and has worked so that Latinos are integrated into the factory of Los Angeles society.”
Cedillo’s support for Caruso did not come out of nowhere. During the many years that Cedillo fought for driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants to be approved, he had as an ally the real estate businessman, who was president of the Los Angeles Police Commission from 2001 to 2006.
In interview with The opinionCaruso said Cedillo’s endorsement means a lot to him.
“We have known each other for a long time. I don’t think there is another councilman who has worked as hard for the working class as he has. All his life he has fought for immigrants. He was a union leader, then an elected official, so I have great respect for him.”
He also said that he has always put his career on the line to fight for what he believes in and for immigrants.
“I have always been proud to work alongside him. Many years ago when I was trying to pass legislation to give driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, as president of the Police Commission I supported it because it greatly benefits the Latino community.”
He specified that he supported it because it was the right thing to do. “It may not have been a popular decision at the time, but it was a fair measure for Los Angeles because giving licenses to immigrants made it a safer city and gave security to undocumented workers themselves.
Caruso stressed that it was important to support driver’s licenses for undocumented drivers; in the same way that it is now essential to carry out an honest and equitable government.
“I want people to feel proud to be part of a larger community in Los Angeles where the Latino community is respected.”
He shared that Cedillo has been very active in his campaign and has given him a lot of advice.
“I’m excited to work with him.”
He said that the fact that he lost the primary election to stay for a third term as councilman does not take away from the fact that he is incredibly respected in the Latino community in the city and in the state.
“Not only that, he is admired and he is a gentleman. I am grateful that he is my friend.”
Are there rumors that other prominent Latinos could join your campaign?… could you give us a name… “let’s wait and see what happens,” he replied smiling.
And he added that there are many people in the Latino community who support him to be the next mayor of Los Angeles.
“What matters most to me is seeing that many of the Latino community workers throughout the city have given me their support, and it continues to grow. That’s why I feel very satisfied.”
As part of his strategy to reach the Latino vote, he said he is speaking and spending a lot of time in Latino communities throughout Los Angeles, in the San Fernando Valley, in East Los Angeles and in the port.
“The city of Los Angeles needs to reflect the strength of the Latino community, because it is almost 50% of our population. But in the City, in the commissions and in the municipal departments that is not reflected”.
So he said that as mayor he is going to appoint more commissioners and more department heads who are Latino.
“We must have a City that reflects the population we serve. Of course I’m going to be a man for all of Los Angeles. But I understand the importance that Latinos play in the city and we need them in our city.”.
And he reiterated that he has promised to be elected mayor, to appoint more Latinos in relevant positions in the City of LA.
Less than three months before the elections, Caruso confided that he feels very confident because he walks around the city every day and people feel frustrated with the current state of things.
“Karen (Bass, her opponent in the mayoral race) can’t make the changes she hasn’t made in her 20 years as a city representative. She has done nothing to make things better.
“When you look for what he has done for helplessness or crime, you find nothing. What we can be sure of is that as mayor he is not going to do anything that he has not accomplished as a member of Congress.”
Councilman Joe Buscaino was among the first to support Caruso. He is also supported by comedian George Lopez.
While the President of the Council, Nury Martínez, and the Councilors Nithya Raman, Mike Bonin and Marqueece Harris-Dawson have given their support to Karen Bass, who has also received the support of Senator María Elena Durazo, Assemblywomen Wendy Carrillo and the supervisor Hilda Solis.
It is still unknown who Councilman Kevin de León will support, who although he lost his bid for mayor in the June primary, showed that he has a large following among Latino voters.
The results of the primary elections gave Karen Bass 43.11% of the vote and 35.99% to Caruso.
According to an LA Times analysis, in Los Angeles congressional districts with populations that are at least 80% Latino, Caruso garnered 34% of the primary vote and Bass 27%.
De León captured 8% of the general vote but 24% in those precincts.