CD10 - With the conviction of Mark Ridley-Thomas for fraud and bribery, there is a welcomed and exciting upside. He will not return to his seat on the City Council in District 10, which opens the door for community leader and attorney Grace Yoo to again run for that seat in 2024. Yoo announced her candidacy in late March to cheers from avid supporters who have long known the values she stands for.
“For more than a decade, I have been a formidable critic of City Hall, which has failed to follow the law,” says Yoo. “Now, I want to implement ethical policies to make sure City Hall serves the people and not political insiders.”
Yoo has spent 30 years advocating for her neighbors, working-class families and individuals who have been neglected by the city, doing the job of a council representative.
As an attorney Yoo represented abused and neglected children at LA County’s Children’s Law Center. From there, she served as the executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), where she expanded language- access initiatives, solidified the Voting Rights Act and diversified the bench with more lawyers from different ethnicities, religions and gender identities.
Yoo continued to create valuable change as the executive director of a local nonprofit, empowering underserved communities and providing opportunities and resources for all, including for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students.
“Grace Yoo is a vote for integrity,” wrote WatchDog reporter Jack Humphreville in 2020, when Yoo ran against Ridley-Thomas for the CD 10 council seat. “She is independent of the corrupt political establishment. Rather, she will be a breath of fresh air, willing to fight for transparency and against the pay-to-play culture that pervades City Hall.”
Endorsed by East Area Progressive Democrats (EAPD) in Yoo’s two previous runs for the CD 10 council seat, and by United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) in 2020, the LA County Democratic Party, however, predictably endorsed Ridley-Thomas, as well as former CD 14 Councilman Jose Huizar, now facing years in federal prison for profiting from back-room deals with developers. These alarming blots on the judgment and outcome of endorsement votes by county Democrats should be a wake-up call to party leaders to give worthy, ethical candidates more serious consideration.
“Along with EAPD, Grace Yoo was one of the first leaders in LA who called out the pattern of self-dealing by Mark Ridley-Thomas,” says EAPD President Hans Johnson. “Angelenos deserve trustworthy Councilmembers with independence and spine, focused on serving us, the people. Those are credentials City Hall needs and that Grace Yoo personifies.”
Voters will decide on March 5,2024, between Grace Yoo and expected contestants Aura Vasquez, appointed placeholder Heather Hutt and current Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer. If no candidate exceeds 50 percent, a runoff will occur on the November 2024 ballot.
This time let’s get it right. It has to be Yoo.
(Mary A Fischer is an award-winning journalist and Eastside activist.)