Elections for the 19-member Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council are set to take place on April 13 and will be done by mail this year, to ensure the public’s safety during the Coronavirus pandemic.
“This season, for the 2021 election cycle, every neighborhood council is holding a vote-by-mail election for the very first time.” said EmpowerLA public information officer Ann-Marie Holman during an interview with the city’s LA This Week TV program.
Holman said that those who wish to participate in the neighborhood council election will need to either apply online or fill out a paper application and submit it with necessary documentation. While ballots are postage paid, contrary to general election ballots they are only available by request.
Unlike other local, state and federal elections, neighborhood council elections are meant to include a wide range of stakeholders to better connect communities to higher branches of government.
Stakeholders are defined as those who live, work or own property within the boundaries of the BHNC, which include all of Boyle Heights except the section north of Marengo Street.
According to the EmpowerLA website:
- Candidates and voters need not be US citizens or legal residents to qualify
- Participation is open to the formerly incarcerated.
- The minimum age to vote is 16
“I think it is extremely important for people to be actively engaged and take part in local government and oversight,” said Carlos Cerdan, the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council board secretary who is not seeking reelection.
The deadline for Boyle Heights voters to request their ballots is April 6; ballots must be postmarked no later than April 13 to qualify.
Voters who do not wish to or are unable to send their ballots through the mail are able to use a drop box that will be available from the Friday before until the actual election date. The Boyle Heights drop box will be located at Boyle Heights City Hall, 2130 E 1st St.
“Those drop boxes will be open until 8 p.m. on election day and so you’ll need to put your ballot in that box by that time,” Holman said.
All 19 board posts on the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council are up for election: four area seats, 14 community seats and 1 “community interest” seat. There are two candidates each for areas 1 and 4, but only one candidate each for 2 and 3. Only 13 candidates are vying for the community seats – which means that the new board will have to elect someone to fill the vacancy.
There are two candidates running for the community interest seat – these are stakeholders who do not live, work or own property in the neighborhood but are associated with a community organization in Boyle Heights.
A list of candidates is available online at the Los Angeles City Clerk website, where prospective voters can register to receive their ballot.
Outgoing board secretary Cerdan said that voting for the council is a way for disenfranchised member of the community to have their voices heard.
“Increased participation benefits everyone,” Cerdan said. “The NC is a great bridge and voice of the people. I strongly urge the community to vote and to be involved in addressing issues that impact [Boyle Heights].”