A look into District 14’s candidates

The district, which includes USC’s Health Sciences campus, is holding an election this year.

Los Angeles’ even-numbered districts are up for grabs, including Council District 14 — which houses USC’s Health Sciences Campus and parts of Boyle Heights, Downtown L.A., Eagle Rock and El Sereno. (Grayson Seibert / Daily Trojan)

Los Angeles voters will decide the next batch of city council members on March 5. This year, L.A.’s even-numbered districts are up for grabs, including Council District 14 — which houses USC’s Health Sciences Campus.

District 14 includes regions such as Boyle Heights, Downtown L.A., Eagle Rock and El Sereno. Eight candidates are competing for one seat to lead the district and its citizens. The top two vote-getters in this election will advance to the general election in November unless one of them receives more than 50% of the vote.

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Kevin de León

Kevin de León is District 14’s incumbent councilmember. Prior to being elected to the seat in 2020 with 52% of the primary vote, he represented District 24 of the California state Senate for 10 years. In the middle of his term, he was elected to lead the state Senate, becoming the first Latine to do so in 130 years. 

De León was also involved in the City Council tapes scandal that broke in October 2022. In the tapes, he can be heard comparing the Black son of colleague Mike Bonin to a luxury handbag. De León took a leave of absence from the City Council for two months after the news broke but did not resign, ignoring calls from a group of Democrat allies, including United States President Joe Biden. 

De León’s time as a councilmember has been largely spent beautifying his district — using over $300 million to clean the L.A. River, remove toxic waste around the former Exide Technologies facility, and create and complete several parks, including the L.A. State Historic Park. 

Wendy Carrillo

Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo has represented California’s 52nd District since 2017. She is currently the chair of the assembly’s Budget Subcommittee No. 4 on State Administration and serves on other subcommittees including those on health, housing and community development, as well as climate change. 

Before being elected to the state assembly, Carrillo was a journalist, having earned a master’s degree in journalism and political science at USC. She worked in communications for the Service Employee International Union for home-care and nursing home workers in California and for the City Council.

On her website, Carrillo says one of her primary goals is to address the city’s homelessness crisis by tackling housing costs and improving public health and safety. 

Nadine Diaz

Nadine Diaz is a third-generation resident of Council District 14 and a third-generation alum of USC.

Diaz has worked at the Keck School of Medicine since 1995 and is on the Council Board on Aging for the City of L.A. Department of Aging.

Since 2021, Diaz has served as the vice president of the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council. She was a member of the SEIU United Healthcare Workers and the L.A. Skid Row Initiative Commission. 

Diaz is pursuing a second run for the Council District 14 seat after losing in 2015 to José Huizar. She is running again because, as she wrote in a statement to the Daily Trojan, she is not satisfied with the continued corruption in the district. 

Genny Guerrero

Genny Guerrero is a business owner living in El Sereno and an Indigenous woman who, according to her website, wants to reduce corruption in the district caused by “reckless career politicians.” Guerrero has served on multiple community organizations, including Comité Navideño, Casa De La Cultura Maya and a Navy wives support group.

If elected, Guerrero’s website says she will address the homelessness crisis in L.A. by relaxing the criteria for access to social services and making more houses available. She also wants to expand youth access to recreation centers and programs. 

Some candidates said the issue of homelessness was a top priority. (Ron Reiring / Wikimedia Commons)

Teresa Hillery

Teresa Hillery is an attorney and a member of the Government Liaison Committee for the Downtown L.A. Neighborhood Council. 

In an interview with the Daily Trojan, Hillery said she was driven by community engagement and togetherness, especially when it comes to unhoused individuals. One of her platform policies is to expand housing affordability and to foster more respect for and better relationships with unhoused individuals. 

Ysabel Jurado

Ysabel Jurado, a lifelong resident of Highland Park, is a tenants rights attorney and, in an interview with the Daily Trojan, said the amount of input she has from area residents makes her campaign “special.” 

Jurado said she wants to ensure that students at HSC have access to the same needs and amenities that members of the broader community do, while also ensuring that the campus doesn’t physically overtake the area. 

“The USC expansion has really worried current residents about whether they’re going to be displaced from the neighborhood either directly or indirectly,” she said. “Working in community with them to see what kind of community you can build together, I think, is an important thing that I would want to foster between the various groups.”

If elected, Jurado said she would be the only openly queer member of the City Council. She is also the only Democratic candidate to call for a ceasefire in Gaza. 

Miguel Santiago

Assemblymember Miguel Santiago has represented District 54 since 2014. During his time in the assembly, he authored the two Free Community College in California bills that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law in 2017 and 2019. He has also spent upwards of $550 million on projects to clean up toxic waste, to renovate the 6th Street Bridge and to build a Korean American museum in Koreatown. 

If elected to the City Council, Santiago would expand affordable housing and protect renters.

Eduardo “Lalo” Vargas

Eduardo “Lalo” Vargas is the only openly socialist candidate running for the Council District 14 seat. He is a teacher at Franklin High School in Highland Park, a tenant organizer and former fireman. 

In an interview with the Daily Trojan, Vargas said part of the reason he chose to run for the council seat was to address the root causes of some issues he sees in school. 

“If I have students that are falling asleep in my class, sometimes I ask them what the cause is, and it’s not because they’re lazy or because they were up all night like partying. It’s because they’re living in a one-bedroom apartment with 10 people,” he said. 

If elected, Vargas would work to halt development of new jails, provide free public transportation to residents and convince the city to spend more time on revitalizing the metro system instead of focusing on fare evasion. 

Vargas’ consistent push for workers’ rights issues has earned him endorsements from many labor organizations, including the Graduate Student Workers Organizing Committee-United Auto Workers union at USC.

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