San Fernando Valley runoff election set for City Council District 12

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A special election will be held today in the northwestern San Fernando Valley, where John Lee and Loraine Lundquist are vying to fill the District 12 seat on the Los Angeles City Council, with the candidates espousing varied views on issues facing the area.

Lundquist is an astrophysicist and longtime “social justice” activist who backs the city’s Green New Deal, which calls for strong efforts to address climate change and environmental interests.

Lee is looking to become the second aide in the 12th Council District to ascend to council member. He was the chief of staff for then-City Councilman Mitch Englander, who was previously the chief of staff for then-Councilman Greig Smith. Englander resigned last year to take a job in the private sector, and Smith has been filling the council seat on a temporary basis pending Tuesday’s election.

The city’s Green New Deal is a localized version of the much-debated national proposal aimed at addressing climate change. It sets a goal of powering the city completely emission-free by 2050 through various outreach and community projects, as well as adding restrictions on non-renewable energy. Among its ambitious goals is having one-quarter of the city’s drivers using electric vehicles by 2025.

Lee, while recognizing the effects of climate change, has questioned aspects of the Green New Deal, suggesting it is overly ambitious and would threaten good local jobs. He has also said a push to rapidly reduce emissions would involve major costs for taxpayers.

Lundquist has dismissed such claims as indicative of Lee’s support from the union representing Los Angeles Department of Water and Power workers, which has been critical of the Green New Deal. She said transitioning to clean energy will create many more jobs than it eliminates.

Both candidates have put forth ideas for addressing homelessness and pointed to their past work on the issue.

Lundquist has been the co-chair of the homelessness committee of Northridge East Neighborhood Council and is a founding member of the West Valley Neighborhood Alliance on Homelessness. She said she backs creating more permanent supportive housing to help reduce the number of people on the streets.

According to his website, Lee has volunteered for a variety of charities in his district. One of his goals is to not just get the homeless population off the streets but to help them find employment. He also wants to establish more neighborhood security teams and create a “more effective” intervention system to help families on the brink of losing their home.

As of Monday, Lee’s campaign had out-spent Lundquist by about $196,000.

Although the race is nonpartisan, District 12 — which includes the communities of Chatsworth, Northridge, Porter Ranch, Granada Hills and West Hills — has traditionally leaned Republican. Lee is a Republican. Lundquist is a Democrat.

But the district’s political bent may have been affected by the massive leak at the Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Storage Facility in Porter Ranch that forced thousands of residents from their homes and has prompted sustained calls for its immediate closure. Both Lee and Lundquist have called for its closure.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Voter precincts can be found at www.lavote.net/home/voting-elections. Voter registration status can be checked at that site as well. People who do not know their voter registration status can still fill out a provisional ballot on election day, which will later be verified by the county.

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