West LA Dems Deliver Overwhelming Endorsement of Erin Darling, Receives 80.6% of Club Ballots

Darling picks up additional labor support, Park secures the endorsement of California Treasurer Fiona Ma!

By Nick Antonicello

On a Saturday afternoon ZOOM call, CD-11 council candidate Erin Darling continued his virtual monopoly of Democratic Party endorsements by securing the West LA Democrats’ nod over Traci Park after an interesting exchange that displayed stark differences between the two Venice lawyers looking to succeed outgoing Councilman Mike Bonin.

Club President Cara Robin presided over the club’s endorsement meeting which included member approval for Long Beach Chief Robert Luna over incumbent Sheriff Alex Villanueva and preferring West Hollywood Councilmember Lindsey Horvath over California Senator Bob Hertzberg to fill the open seat on the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors being vacated by the retirement of Sheila Kuehl.

Darling, the civil rights attorney and tenant rights advocate wasted no time presenting a stark contrast with his opponent, asking if she supports rent stabilization controls and Section 8 Housing for renters.

Darling asked the question twice to which on the second ask, Park indicated she did. But some fireworks did erupt when Darling told viewers he was “never a Republican,” which Park countered she has been a registered Democrat for some time and was a strong supporter of President Joe Biden’s 2020 defeat of Donald Trump (Darling is also a Biden supporter).

According to Park’s Voter Registration Profile, she did register as a Republican initially and eventually became a Democrat. She also changed her registration from Venice in January of 2021 to Mono Lakes, California and then re-registered back to Venice in late April of the same year.

The West LA Democratic organization is Bonin Country, and Park has little in resume and party credentials with these savvy political regulars who are strong supporters of tenant rights and the plight of the homeless.

Most of the club’s membership are residents of CD-11 according to President Robin.

Park, who is a supporter of Sheriff Villanueva’s reelection found herself on brittle political turf as her campaign to date has been right-of-center, with a populist twist.

A close ally to public safety unions and the powerful apartment lobby that contributed heavily in the form of independent expenditures to her second-place primary finish told club members that Darling at one time was registered as a Green Party member.

Park tried to interrupt Darling several times when he noted her prior GOP affiliation, which didn’t seem to go well with those in attendance.

Darling also expressed his support for US Representative Karen Bass, who like himself finished first in the June 7th Primary.

Bass carried the neighborhood of Venice over billionaire developer Rick Caruso, another former Republican who recently became a Democrat. Park did not indicate a preference in the race for mayor, but was an avid supporter of Councilman Joe Buscaino who announced his candidacy for mayor here in Venice last year. His campaign collapsed when Caruso entered the race and has since endorsed him to succeed the term-limited Eric Garcetti who is now headed to India to become the US Ambassador.

Park, a polished public speaker with a strong command of the issues focused on the homeless epidemic stressing people need to be kept housed and is proposing 24-hour hotlines in real time for action and service. Park stated promises “have been broken” on this complicated issue, in an obvious reference to the incumbent Bonin who has endorsed Darling.

The meeting wrapped up with Robin announcing the three winners in Luna, Horvath and Darling, with the former VNC community officer locking down an impressive 80.6% of the vote.

In other campaign news, Darling announced the support of the Sierra Club, SEIU Local 721 which represents public sector employees across southern California as well as the City of Los Angeles, and the Engineers & Architects Association that has some 5,000 members. Darling also picked up the endorsement of California Assemblymember Laura Friedman of the 43rd LD. Friedman was quoted as saying “Erin has the fire inside to improve the lives of the people of Los Angeles and Council District 11. I know he will bring to the City Council a smart, fresh outlook and the courage to do the right thing.”

The former mayor and councilmember of Glendale, Friedman represents Burbank, Glendale and portions of Los Angeles in the legislature’s lower house.

In a second major endorsement in wake of her second-place, primary finish (Park was endorsed by former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa), Park’s campaign announced that California Treasurer Fiona Ma is now on board.

California’s 34th State Treasurer, Fiona Ma was elected in 2018 receiving nearly 8 million votes. She is first female CPA to hold this vital statewide position as California’s banker.

Ma is seeking reelection this fall for a second term.

A former member of the California Board of Equalization (2015-19), Ma served in the California legislature as an assemblymember from 2006 through 2012 where she served her Democratic Caucus as Majority Whip and Speaker Pro Tempore. A northern Californian, Ma served as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors (2002-2006). Married to a firefighter, Ma is a graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology and earned a MA in Taxation from Golden Gate University and an MBA from Pepperdine.

As we enter the final stretch of the campaign, Darling is knocking on doors as he indicated canvassing in both Del Rey and the Palisades this past weekend. Darling explained a strong ground game is essential to overcoming Park’s distinct money advantage to date.

In the June 7th Primary, Park outspent Darling roughly 10-1 and had a six-month head start in fundraising activities.

Nick Antonicello is a longtime Venetian who covers government and politics and how it impacts the neighborhood of Venice. A member of the Oceanfront Walk Committee of the Venice Neighborhood Council, Antonicello can be reached via e-mail at nantoni@mindspring.com

in Opinion
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