Traci Park on track to succeed Mike Bonin in Los Angeles council’s 11th district headquarters

Traci Park held a comfortable lead over Erin Darling on Wednesday and appeared to be heading for victory in the race to replace Councilman Mike Bonin in the 11th District, according to partial results released by the Los Angeles County Clerk.

The race is a contest between two lawyers with different views on how they would approach the position.

Darling, a civil rights lawyer, won 35% of the vote in the June primary. Park, who focuses on labor and employment law and civil rights litigation, was second with 29%. The 11th district stretches along the west side of the city along the Pacific Ocean.

Bonin has decided not to seek a third term, but his legacy looms large in this race. One of the most progressive members of the council, Bonin was one of two dissenters on the adjustment to Ordinance 41.18 that prohibited encampments from being within 500 feet of schools and daycares.

Park sought to portray Darling as similar to Bonin, beginning with the approach to ordinance 41.18. Darling told City News Service that while he would enforce the ordinance because it is the law, he disagreed with the emphasis on enforcement.

“It’s the status quo, in my opinion, it’s the focus on closing a place and just pushing people two blocks away, as opposed to one way off the streets,” Darling said.

Park’s campaign did not respond to interview requests from the City News Service.

At a candidates’ forum hosted by the Pacific Palisades Democratic Club at Palisades High School in October, Park said she fully supports the ordinance and would seek to expand it to areas around libraries, parks, canyons, hillside communities and sensitive environmental habitats.

“I spoke out against the irresponsible and failed approaches to homelessness and homelessness interventions that we have seen in our community,” Park said.

Darling, meanwhile, claimed that if Park won, she would be the “most conservative member” of the board. Darling and Park are both Democrats.

Darling said one of the ways he would differentiate himself from Bonin would be to work to improve basic services to voters.

Darling touted his experience as a lawyer representing tenants as an asset in dealing with the city’s homelessness crisis, noting the challenge of expensive real estate on the Westside. He suggested using vacant motels, commercial spaces and city-owned land for modular housing.

“There are ways to solve this problem, not just buy a private plot and spend years developing it,” Darling said. “We can be smarter about how we do it.”

Park, at the nominees’ forum, said she was “concerned about the assault on women’s rights” amid the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade. She said she would support the use of federal infrastructure funding to bring drought mitigation measures to Los Angeles.

On housing construction, Park said she would support “smart and sustainable developments where appropriate”, adding that she “will ensure developments comply with environmental, regulatory and other zoning requirements”.

Denise W. Whigham