L.A.’s Asian Americans to have increased representation on City Council

LOS ANGELES—The 15-seat Los Angeles City Council is about to experience something that’s never happened before: an Asian American will occupy two seats on the dais. John Lee, who recently served as a council aide, is expected to win the seat for L.A.’s 12th District, which covers the northwestern portion of the San Fernando Valley.

Official results show Lee defeating Loraine Lundquist in an Aug. 13 special election runoff. Lee, with 100 percent of precincts reporting, had 16,724 votes; Lundquist finished with 15,395 votes.

The L.A. City Council already had one Asian American – David Ryu – prior to Lee’s election. Ryu, a Democrat and Korean American, represents Hollywood, Griffith Park, Miracle Mile and Sherman Oaks, among other communities.

Lee, meanwhile, is a Republican, which is consistent with his district. The 12th District of Los Angeles, which includes Chatsworth, Granada Hills, Northridge, Porter Ranch and West Hills, generally leans Republican. Michael Englander, the last long-term council member from the 12th District, was also a Republican. Englander had employed Lee as a chief of staff.

Among the issues Lee said he would advocate for on the City Council were the environment, youth programs, public safety, homelessness and infrastructure investment.

Lee was born to South Korean parents who arrived in the United States in the 1960s and is a graduate of Cal State Northridge. After college Lee pursue a career in public policy, working as a field deputy with Council member Joel Wachs and legislative deputy for Council member Grieg Smith.

Michael Woo was the first-ever Asian American to be elected to the L.A. City Council; he served on the council from 1985 to 1993. Woo had run for L.A. Mayor in 1993 but lost to Richard Riordan in a tight election.