Former Los Angeles City Councilwoman Rita Walters has accused Council District 9 candidate Curren Price of trying to "incite racial animosity among African-American voters."
In a strongly worded "open letter," Walters, who backs Council District 9 candidate Ana Cubas, says Price, an African American, made "blatantly scurrilous remarks" when he said on Monday that Cubas, a Latina, was "committed to dividing the Ninth along racial lines."
On March 4, the grassroots group South Los Angeles Power Coalition made a similar plea, asking all CD 9 candidates to "immediately cease any race-based attacks." Price and Cubas were the top two winners of the March 5 primary and will face each other in the May 21 runoff.
Political observers told L.A. Weekly that race would undoubtedly be a factor in the CD 9 contest, in which African American political leaders don't want to lose the seat that's long been held by a black politician.
Campaign consultant Dermot Damian Givens, who's not working in the CD 9 contest, said that there "are the usual cultural tensions in that the entrenched blacks feel the Latinos are taking over their neighborhoods. While the politicians try to downplay it, it is very real."
Those tensions are not being downplayed anymore.
South Los Angeles has become increasingly Latino over the years, and Cubas is looking to defeat labor-backed, cash-heavy Price, who placed first in the primary. While Cubas has raised nearly the same amount as Price in campaign contributions, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and other groups have spent over $500,000 in independent expenditure money on Price.
Independent expenditure money spent on Cubas pales in comparison: Just $22,000.
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Walters, an African American woman who served in CD 9 during the 1990s, has demanded that Price "retract his false and inadvisable statements."
The former councilwoman also calls "for a pledge from both sides to conduct only the highest principles of political campaigning."
Kokayi Kwa Jitahidi of the South Los Angeles Power Coalition tells the Weekly that the group will be monitoring the campaigns through Election Day and try to keep Price and Cubas focused on what really matters: addressing "deep poverty" issues and fixing "terrible roads, a crumbling infrastructure, and poor schools."
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org.