A run-off looks imminent, with Venice resident Nico Ruderman, Lawndale Mayor Robert Pullen-Miles likely favorites as the campaign draws to a close!
By Nick Antonicello
The race to fill the unexpired term of former Assemblyman Autumn Burke of Marina del Rey has just heated up as endorsements have been rolled out by Democratic activist Tina McKinnor who attacked the mayor of Lawndale, Robert Pullen-Miles, who served as Burke’s district manager and endorsed him and the California Democratic Party in this race on Tuesday.
Pullen-Miles was harshly criticized by McKinnor for previously running for the California legislature as a Republican against Carl Washington, and was even attacked for being a former law enforcement officer!
McKinnor, was endorsed by the Los Angeles Times (March 16and) along with LA Councilman Mike Bonin, LA County Supervisor Holly Mitchell, California Senator Steve Bradford, former Assemblyman Betsy Butler, Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer, Congresswoman American Maxine Waters, California Treasurer Fiona Ma, California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara and California Senator Sydney Kamlager.
It appears McKinnor and Pullen-Miles devoted much of their messaging to who approved them, while Venice community worker, landlord, husband and parent Nico Ruderman hammered home a message of cleaning up rampant homelessness and of rising crime while earning the endorsement of LA City Councilman and mayoral candidate, retired LAPD officer Joe Buscaino.
The fourth candidate in the race is Angie Reyes English, who sits on Hawthorne City Council and won the endorsement of LA City Councilman Curren Price, retired Assemblyman Richard Alatorre, Beverly Hills Councilman Dr. Julian Gold, Centinela Union School Board member Hugo Rojas and Marisol Cruz, former Lennox School Board member.
Mayor Pullen-Miles also earned several high-profile endorsements, including U.S. Congressman Ted Lieu, LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn, LA County Assessor Jeffrey Prang, LA Comptroller Ron Galperin, as well as Assembly members Al Muratsuchi, Richard Bloom of Santa Monica and James. Cooper. The mayor was also able to secure local endorsements from elected officials in Inglewood, Lawndale, Hawthorne and Gardena, the most prominent being Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts.
Both McKinnor and Ruderman criticized the support Pullen-Miles received from Big Oil, particularly a committee funded by Valero Services, Chevron and Marathon Petroleum.
Ruderman called on Pullen-Miles to return a $500 donation while McKinnor claimed oil companies were spending “tens of thousands of dollars” to support the Lawndale chief executive.
Pullen-Miles ran a positive campaign touting his record as mayor building parks, a community center and a youth development center.
He highlighted his record as mayor in attracting new business, balancing Lawndale’s municipal budget and stopping tenant evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Having worked for four state lawmakers, including Burke, Pullen-Miles was an emergency first responder who won a $2 million state grant for streetscape improvement projects in Lawndale.
Originally from Oklahoma, Pullen-Miles arrived in California with just $25 at the age of 19. He began a career in public service, married and had a family of daughters, and eventually became Lawndale’s first black mayor.
McKinnor is a longtime political activist and first-time party insider.
She raised her family in the neighborhood and runs a small business according to her campaign literature. A self-described “nonprofit leader” and small business owner, she was previously employed by the California Democratic Party in charge of operations. McKinnor is currently director of civic engagement for LA Voice, an organization that focuses on social justice issues and immigrant rights.
Nico Ruderman, who successfully won a community officer seat on the Venice Neighborhood Council last summer, was a key organizer and promoter of the 2021 Recall Bonin effort that resulted in the obtaining some 26,000 signatures, or 95% of the petitions required for the ballot. Although the recall failed, many believe the sheer number of valid signings forced Bonin to step down from the race and not seek a third and final term for re-election.
Father of a school-aged son, Ruderman’s wife is a doctor.
Ruderman’s campaign has been “laser focused” on rampant homelessness, rising crime and deteriorating quality of life within Dog Town and the district as a whole.
Ruderman wants to fight for state funding to bolster mental health programs that will stem the tide of homelessness and create a more holistic, community-based approach to solving the street encampment crisis in places like Centennial Park here. in the free public library of Venice.
Ruderman proposed a four-point plan:
- Build more housing that maintains community character
- Expand and increase mortgage and rental assistance and fight for tax cuts for small business owners
- Adopt policies that address the root causes of crime
- Bring necessary mental health and addictions resources to the district
Regarding public safety, Ruderman offers the following:
- Support additional law enforcement grants of $300 million to $1 billion for public safety
- Reform Proposal #47
- Increase mental health counseling and inspection instead of police intervention
- Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon recalled
In-person voting has already begun and ballots were sent to voters several weeks ago.
According to sources, some 18,000 ballots have been submitted so far and about half are from communities north of LAX like Venice, Westchester and Mar Vista where homelessness is the dominant issue.
If no candidate obtains 50% of the votes, a second round will take place between the first two.
Nick Antonicello is a long-time Venetian covering political events affecting Venice. To contact him, call (310) 621-3775 or email [email protected]