The Weekly’s recommendations in the March primary




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In the race to succeed the term-limited Tony Cardenas in this Northeast Valley district, Yolanda Fuentes was a last-minute recruit. This Cardenas staffer was managing her boss’s campaign for the L.A. City Council when it became apparent that no one else from the Cardenas–Alex Padilla machine would oppose Cindy Montanez, the young mayor of San Fernando who’d earned the machine’s ire. And abruptly, Fuentes — a well-meaning young woman of no particular depth — was transformed into a candidate.

Montanez was elected to the San Fernando City Council three years ago, at a ripe old 25. There, she opposed a large downtown development — then used her considerable community-organizing skills against that development until the city was up in arms. That won her the machine’s enmity, since the project’s consultant was James Acevedo, Cardenas’ lead henchman. Montanez then established the historic- homes preservation program and promoted businesses like coffeehouses and bookstores. This remarkable young leader claims the backing of virtually every L.A. progressive institution. She surely has ours.


Andrei Cherny is a wunderkind-and-a-half. While still a Harvard undergrad in 1996, he became a writer for the Clinton re-election campaign, and ended up contributing some lines to Clinton’s second inaugural address. Ten days after graduating, he was an official speechwriter for Vice President Gore, and then he went on to edit Blueprint, the magazine of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council. Two years ago, he authored The Next Deal, in which he ruminated on big ideas, then became a protégé of term-limited Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg, who tapped him to run to succeed him in this Van Nuys–Sherman Oaks district.

Unfortunately, while the 26-year-old Cherny is an affable and brilliant exponent of big ideas, they’re not invariably good ideas. His is a litany of New Democrat nostrums — school choice (verging on vouchers), Social Security partial privatization, and the kind of deregulatory nonsense that led straight to the Enron debacle. Even worse, he became Hertzberg’s guy on the board of Valley Vote, that nest of secessionist yahoos whose collective IQ Cherny probably exceeds all by himself.

Cherny’s primary opponent is Lloyd Levine, the legislative director for San Bernardino–area Assemblyman John Longville. Levine is a solid liberal and a skilled legislative craftsman. In a contest between a brilliant champion of some second-rate philosophies and a workmanlike champion of some deep progressive values, we’re opting for the latter: Lloyd Levine.


In her first term, this Westside–West Valley member has lived up to expectation as a champion of the environment, and exceeded it as a voice for economic justice.


This first-term chair of the Assembly Labor Committee authored a law curbing aggressive credit-card marketing to college students, and a bill establishing Vermont-style civil unions.


In his first term representing this Glendale-centered district, Frommer has shown impressive legislative skills, particularly in the cause of urban parks.


And in her first term, Liu has authored a range of valuable, second-generation civil rights legislation — the most memorable being her bill legalizing the sale of room-temperature Korean rice cakes.


The invaluable Goldberg authored laws creating a statewide landlord registry (to help track down slumlords) and requiring an additional 45 minutes of kindergarten in multitrack schools.


The race to succeed Gil Cedillo as Assembly member from this district in the heart of immigrant L.A. pits Pedro Carrillo, a staffer for Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, against Fabian Nunez, a onetime union strategist and all-round political phenom of the new Los Angeles. Carrillo has attempted to gain some mileage by portraying Nunez as a tool of unions. Nonetheless, the Central City Association (of downtown businesses) has backed Nunez — a testament to Nunez’s deep familiarity with community needs, since the merchants had to overcome their reservations about his labor bona fides.

Those bona fides run deep. In his 20s, Nunez became a leader in One-Stop Immigration, and helped assemble the campaign against Proposition 187. Later, as a staffer for the Utility Workers, he became one of a handful of voices in Sacramento trying to stop the disastrous energy deregulation of the mid-’90s. Shortly thereafter, he became the political director of the L.A. County Federation of Labor, which is to say, a key player in the transformation of Los Angeles into the home of an urban progressivism. In the cauldron of local Latino politics, his was an eloquent voice for class-based, rather than race-based, politics. More recently, he’s been the Sacramento lobbyist for the L.A. school district, and he succeeded in defusing some of the Legislature’s animus toward the district.

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