Raucous crowd attends tense debate between City Council District 4 candidates in Sherman Oaks

Jory Rand Image
Thursday, January 18, 2024
Raucous crowd attends Sherman Oaks debate between council candidates
A raucous crowd of hundreds filled the cafeteria of the Sherman Oaks adult center to see candidates for Los Angeles City Council's District 4 seat.

SHERMAN OAKS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A raucous crowd of hundreds filled the cafeteria of the Sherman Oaks adult center Wednesday night to see candidates for Los Angeles City Council's District 4 seat.

The incumbent, Councilwoman Nithya Raman, won the seat after defeating David Ryu four years ago, and now Deputy City Attorney Ethan Weaver is looking to do the same to her.

"It is the mismatch between what's happening in City Hall and what is happening in the community," Weaver told the audience. "That is the reason I'm running to represent you."

Raman, in the face of an unhappy crowd, remained poised and focused throughout.

"It will be hard to get to the very lofty goals that we have," she said. "We can push as hard as we can, but I think we have to be pushing together in the same direction."

As it did 4 years ago, the topic of Raman's membership in the Democratic Socialists of America came up. The group has made controversial comments, like calling for a ban on police or describing Israel an apartheid state.

"The DSA selected my opponent to run in the last election, they ran her campaign," Weaver said.

The City Council approved a request to officially withdraw a measure from the March 2024 ballot that would have required all hotels in the city to house homeless people next to paying guests.

"Sorry this is a lie," Raman interjected."

"Well, you can fact check this yourself," Weaver said. "This is a group closely tied to the City Council members, and you need to understand who has your City Council member's ear."

"I'm a grown-ass woman," Raman said. "I chose to do this. I decided to run. I picked my campaign team, I ran my campaign last time. I was not recruited to do this."

Perhaps the most heated topic of the evening was on the building of housing, specifically a seven-story apartment building on a single-family-home street. The project was fast-tracked by Mayor Karen Bass in what was later deemed an oversight -- but by then it was too late.

"We are under a state mandated re-planning process--" Raman said before being interrupted by jeers from the crowd. "Hold on one second, hold on one second, let me finish. As long as we can meet the regulations of that state process and still preserve these neighborhoods, I am 100% fine with it."

"The councilwoman listed off all the different groups that she's learned that she needs to work with," Weaver told the audience. "There was one group that was noticeably missing - and that was the community."

Afterward, he told ABC7 that he thought the debate "went very well, and such a great night to engage with the community and meet the folks where they live."

"Progress is always going to be slow, but it is steady and it is there," Raman told ABC7. "And we are working hard to make a change for residents every single day."