(Editor’s note: Two CD 11 Candidates, Soni Lloyd and Mat Smith are being excluded from the Westside Regional Alliance of Councils (WRAC) Forum on April 25. They will be included in the Palisades Podcast, hosted by Maryam Zar and Steve Cron on April 28, and also in the Brentwood/Pacific Palisades Community Council debate on May 3. It raises the larger question of why candidates are also being excluded by WRAC in the City Attorney’s and L.A. City Board of Supervisors District 3 race. This story ran in the Westside Current on April 22.)
Two Council District 11 Candidates say they want in on a forum being held next week.
On Monday, April 25, six of eight candidates vying for the CD11 council seat will participate in a forum hosted by the Westside Regional Alliance of Councils (WRAC). Two candidates, Soni Lloyd and Mat Smith, who were not invited, say they are being silenced and want to be included.
“I’m being kept out of the WRAC Forum on April 25,” stated Smith in a recent email. “I entered this race to win but knew a traditional campaign would be foolish. As a Republican running in an area that has elected a Democrat every election since 1957, I knew endorsements and fundraising would be limited at best. As a result, I have self-financed my campaign and have REJECTED MATCHING FUNDS. I haven’t looked for endorsements, again, because I’m an outside candidate not running a traditional campaign.”
Lloyd echoed the sentiment on a recent Facebook Post: “Westside Regional Alliance of Councils openly admits to manipulating free and democratic elections in Los Angeles. The people are being DENIED their RIGHT to be informed of the issues on THEIR ballot. These are the enemies of our democracy. They are the ones who stand in the way of progress. Shame on you, Matt, and shame on your “committee”.
“We decided to limit the number of candidates so we could provide valuable time to the [invited] candidate and attendees,” stated WRAC Chair and Del Rey NC President Matt Wersinger.
“We want to do a deep dive on several topics and felt we couldn’t’ do that with a crowded forum.”
Wersinger stated that invitations to candidates were based on several factors including polls, endorsements, fundraising and name recognition. “The decision-making process was not based on party affiliation as it’s a non-partisan race and no one is listed with any party on the ballot or filing information.” [ Note: The Circling the News Editor asked to see the polls, but Wersinger never responded.]
Smith said he hasn’t seen any polls adding, “Our team has legally placed over 200 lawn signs throughout Westchester, Playa Del Rey, Mar Vista, and Pacific Palisades, so we’re getting the word out.”
Wersinger noted that there have been and will continue to be numerous forums in the council district. “There’s at least one forum a week– So, there are ample opportunities for all candidates. But, again, what we wanted to do with the candidates was dig into details–having many candidates attend wouldn’t allow us to that.”
The exclusion of candidates isn’t limited to the WRAC forum–four mayoral candidates were excluded from the May 1 Cal State debate. They too are demanding to be included.
Candidate Rick Caruso in a tweet voiced support for including more candidates on the Cal State debate stage.
“We should have a democratic debate that includes all candidates,” Caruso tweeted. “I challenge Karen, Kevin, Joe and Mike to call on Cal State to include the candidates.”
Jonathan Underland, a spokesperson for Mayoral Candidate Kevin De León, criticized Caruso’s tweet.
“The theatrics of this is that it’s not about democracy but minimizing the chance for him to make a mistake in front of tens of thousands of people,” he said. “In a 12-person debate, there’s a lot less time for error.”
Fifty-five people have qualified to run for 11 city offices in the June 7 election. Voters will have the opportunity to choose a new mayor, a new city attorney, a new city controller—and on the westside, a new council member–setting the stage for the most significant turnover in political leadership at City Hall since 2013.
The Westside Regional Alliance of Councils (WRAC) will present a series of public forums for candidates in those four elections.
The official WRAC forum schedule is as follows:
April 25, 7-9 pm Candidates for City Council District 11
April 26, 7:30-9:30 pm Candidates for City Council District 5
April 27, 7-9 pm Candidates for LA County Board of Supervisors District 3
April 28, 7-9 pm Candidates for City Attorney
The forums will be moderated by Wersinger, along with special guest moderators. Vicki Halliday will be co-moderating the CD11 forum.