On March 19th, 2021, the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board ran an article where they asked, “Where are all the women?” about the 2022 Mayoral election. It points out that in 2013 — the last time the mayoral seat was open — by this time, two strong, well-known, and well-respected women were already running — Controller Wendy Gruel and Councilmember Jan Perry.
It really did get me thinking: where ARE all the women?
Over the last 20 years, our last three Mayors — Garcetti, Villaraigosa, and Hahn — all ascended to the mayorship from other city elected offices. Garcetti and Villaraigosa were both Councilmembers, while Hahn served as both City Controller and City Attorney. Elected office is a great launchpad to run for Mayor, so let’s look at the 3 of 17 city elected offices currently held by women.
Councilmember Nithya Raman was just sworn-in in December and is more likely to focus on the work she wants to do for her district than immediately jumping to another race. Councilmember Monica Rodriguez is also still in her first term, and running for Mayor would mean needing to vacate her seat, which is a gamble. And Council President Martinez, who would be the woman best positioned to run, talked to the LA Times for their article about the many roadblocks she’d face.
It would be even more difficult for any woman not currently elected to office to run. The last time a non-elected official won the mayorship was millionaire businessman and philanthropist Mayor Richard Riordan in 1993. So, if being elected creates more opportunities to run for citywide office, then having only 3 women of 17 elected city seats is not going to cut it. That means that in order to answer the L.A. Times’ question, we first need to change the makeup of those 17 seats.
I’m not suggesting all 17 (or 18 if you include Mayor) should be women, (though we were able to achieve it at the county level, swoon!), or that we elect a woman for the sake of it. But I am asking for simple parity. I am saying that if we care about women’s voices being at the table — because we know women are more effective legislators and because women make up more than half of our population — and if you also sat there wondering, where are all of the women? then it’s time to support more female candidates. I’ve talked to many women leaders in the city about the editorial, and former City Councilwoman and City Controller, Laura Chick, put it best:
“Women are not invested in maintaining this dysfunctional status quo. We want change. We want things done differently…and better. Strong women, who seek power to solve problems and who approach conflict, competition, and crisis differently than their male counterparts, are exactly what every level of government needs!”
If we want more women in citywide office, helping women win is the answer. The good news is that there are a lot of women running for office in the City of Los Angeles who you can support right now. Right NOW.
In the City Attorney race, Marina Torres has launched an impressive campaign. An Obama administration alum, 1st-generation Latina, and current federal prosecutor, she brings her unique life experiences to the role — a role that desperately needs reform. Her credentials include having worked on DACA policy under Obama and being honored by the ACLU for her civil rights and social justice work. Growing up in poverty as a child of undocumented Mexican immigrants and rising to be a double-Stanford graduate is a true L.A. story. If elected, she’d be the first woman EVER to hold this seat.
In Council District 3, high school teacher, union member, and activist Yasmine Pomeroy has filed to challenge incumbent Bob Blumenfield, who ran unopposed in 2017. In District 3, only two women have ever held the position. Come to think of it, only 18 women have held city council seats since its creation in 1850. Last year, Yasmine was elected to the California Teacher Association’s State Council, the top policy-making body in the state. She is committed to prioritizing social justice and education in our city and ensuring that those who run Los Angeles are true representatives of the working class.
And in Council District 5, Katy Young Yaroslavsky is running to replace termed-out incumbent Paul Koretz. An experienced policymaker, coalition builder, and mom to three young kids, Katy spent a decade as a climate attorney and general counsel of a local non-profit, and for the last six years has served as LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl’s Senior Policy Director for the Environment and the Arts. Katy developed, negotiated, and steered Board adoption of Measure W: The Safe, Clean Water Program which provides $300 million each year for local water supplies, more parks, thousands of local jobs, and healthier communities. If elected, Katy would be the first woman to represent Council District 5 since 1965.
Any of these incredible women could be your next Mayor in 2026 or 2030. Let’s invest in them now so they — and we — have that opportunity. Women legislate differently. We’re more collaborative. We prioritize children, education, poverty. Put simply: we get stuff done. And that’s something Los Angeles could certainly benefit from right now.
Dulce Vasquez is an educator, immigrant, higher education advocate, and former LA City Commissioner. She, too, has launched a campaign for Los Angeles City Council in District 9. You can read more about her and support her campaign at dulcevasquez.com.