Candidates for L.A. City Council, District 4

Fourteen candidates are campaigning to represent District Four, which stretches from Sherman Oaks to Miracle Mile and includes parts of Hollywood and Los Feliz. To help voters decide who to support in the March 3 primary, the Times asked the contenders to write a brief biography and respond to questions on a range of issues.

Photo: Nine of the 14 candidates for District 4 debate at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks on Jan. 21. The debate was sponsored by the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Assn. (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

Candidates for L.A. City Council, District 4

Tara Bannister

I am running to represent the people of the Fourth District because I believe the City Council needs a bigger, bolder, brighter vision for Los Angeles. City government can do better on the basics, like safe communities, accessible sidewalks, quality roads and spurring new economic development.  I believe that by working together we can reach even higher. I am committed to ensure that Los Angeles is the very best place in which to live, work and raise a family.

Once in office, I am committed to bridging the gap between residents and City Hall.  Investing in infrastructure is investing in our future, so I will increase the quality and accessibility of our sidewalks.  Our Orange line needs to be upgraded to a light rail line, but in the meantime, we can add express buses to improve our everyday life in the Valley.  Through collaboration and innovation, we can find ways to save taxpayer dollars and complete projects faster. 

With my experience in government, business and the community, I have and will continue to ensure that we create good-paying jobs. I have been an innovator in the public, private and nonprofit sectors and have what it takes to propel our community into a bright future. For more information, visit

Read our Q&A with Tara Bannister »

Jay Beeber

Jay Beeber is the community advocate who eliminated L.A.’s red light camera program in 2011. Since then, Jay has been instrumental in ensuring that government policies serve the people’s interests.

Jay is now leading L.A.’s parking reform movement and was co-chair of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Parking Reform Working Group. Recently, Jay helped convince Caltrans to change the protocol for traffic signal timing throughout California, improving roadway safety.

Previously, he spearheaded the successful effort to stop state legislation that would have eliminated citizens’ rights to a court trial for certain traffic offenses. Jay is the second vice president of the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council and serves on the city’s Pedestrian Advisory Committee.

Prior to moving to L.A. in 1997, Jay managed a five-doctor veterinary hospital with a staff of more than 30 employees. Jay has worked in various areas of the entertainment industry, most recently serving as vice president of production and development for Black Sheep Entertainment.

Jay, his wife, Heather, and their adopted shelter pet, Tucker, live in Sherman Oaks. For more information, visit

Read our Q&A with Jay Beeber »

Teddy Davis

Attorney/educator Teddy Davis, 36, is the new generation leader running for Los Angeles City Council in District 4. 

Born and raised in Los Feliz and Sherman Oaks, Davis is focused on fixing streets, protecting neighborhoods, and holding City Hall accountable. Davis rejects campaign money from the DWP and will demand a full accounting of every public dollar. He rejects campaign money from developers and will make land use decisions on the merits.

Davis has worked over the years as a senior aide to the mayor of Los Angeles, as special assistant to the governor of California, and as an Emmy Award-winning ABC News journalist. 

Davis currently serves as an Unruh Fellow at USC, helping students prepare for careers in public service. 

Davis went to college and law school in Washington, DC, earning degrees from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and the Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law.

He is married to Emily Turner Davis, an editor for Island Press, a publishing house that specializes in books about the environment. For more information,visit

Read our Q&A with Teddy Davis »

Sheila Irani

My early business success in providing employer-sponsored child-care plans to large businesses and then award-winning, nationwide transportation strategies to local governments allowed me to devote myself to public and community service for the past decade.

Recently I served Councilman Tom LaBonge, first as field deputy in the Wilshire region and then as director of special projects, securing funding and pre-planning for up to 45 local projects. Since 2004, I have served high-risk youth through my own Women & Words organization and as chairwoman of the CHAMPION Fund at Children’s Hospital for the Division of Adolescent Medicine.

I have served my local community as outreach chairwoman for Hollywood United Neighborhood Council and as Lake Hollywood HOA president. I am a lifelong District 4 resident and graduate of Immaculate Heart High School, where I begun my community activism and involvement in grass roots local politics as an intern for Councilwoman Peggy Stevenson.

I attended and graduated from UCLA as a Chancellor’s Scholar receiving a double bachelor’s degree in economics and psychology (1984), and an MBA in organization and strategic studies in 1987.

I am the only candidate who has started multiple businesses and built them into multimillion-dollar enterprises from the ground up, utilizing my own financing and the fiscal management I would want to bring to the City. For more information, visit

Read our Q&A with Sheila Irani »

Step Jones

What makes me different? I’m not interested in legislating your social affairs; my only tenet is that you don’t harm other people.

Things your previous and present City Council do will continue to affect your life morally and socially, I believe we can make our own social and moral decisions.

Vaping, condoms, Iran, elephant trainers, creating days for different things: eg. renters day, El Salvador day, and Jiff the Pomeranian day, Rialto schools, Philippines independence, meatless Mondays, and banning genetically modified crops in the city of L.A., and Fresno.

I plan to focus city of L.A.’s budget of 8 billion dollars a year, not including forward obligations.

I believe the LAPD should be the highest paid police department in the country, and with being the highest paid zero tolerance in performing their duties. Fire and paramedics should be the highest paid in the country, and with being the highest paid zero tolerance in performing their duties.

Streets need to be repaved. Sidewalks need to be fixed. Homeless should be taken care of with a coordinated effort between public and private agencies. Parks need to be maintained and beautified. Our streets need to be better illuminated in many areas and junk needs to be picked up. Jobs. Seniors.

There are serious issues in our city, so it is imperative to stay focused on what’s important to our lives.

I will not be engaged in your moral or social affairs.

Voting for me will be a vote to stop the nonsense so we can get back to running the city of Los Angeles. For more information, visit

Jones elected not to respond to the Times’ questionnaire.

Wally Knox

I grew up in a suburban family in New Mexico and enlisted in the U.S. Army for four years during the Vietnam War. I served in Germany and in Vietnam as well a several assignments here in the States.

I graduated from Harvard University in 1973 and from Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco in 1977. I practiced law continuously from 1977 to 1994, much of it as a partner in my own small law firm. I was elected to the Los Angeles Community College Board in 1987 and served part of my time as its president.

In 1994, I was elected to the California State Assembly, where I served for three terms — six years. I represented Sherman Oaks, Studio City, parts of Encino and Toluca Lake in the Valley. I also represented much of West L.A., Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Larchmont, Windsor Square and Hancock Park.

I ran for State Senate in 2000 against my friend Sheila Kuehl, who won the race. After leaving the Assembly in 2000, I obtained a master’s degree in econometrics at UCLA studying the decline of the American middle class.

I served several years in the Villaraigosa administration at the request of the mayor. I was on the DWP Commission, was a senior deputy director of the Port of Los Angeles and a senior deputy director of DWP.

I am married to Beth Garfield and have two children, Aviva and Tamara. We are members of Temple Israel of Hollywood. For more information, visit

Read our Q&A with Wally Knox »

Fred Mariscal

Fred Mariscal, a proud first-generation American, continues to build a record of service in multiple communities around the city of Los Angeles. As a three-term Neighborhood Council member, community activist and volunteer, Mariscal built an impressive record of leadership, and building on that passion and dedication, now enters the race in City Council District Four.

Born and raised in Mexico City, Mariscal moved to Los Angeles in 1992 where he received a degree from the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California.

Upon graduation in 1996, Mariscal became a junior publicist at Hanson & Schwam Public Relations in Beverly Hills. In 2002 he was asked to assist the United States government as an intelligence analyst for the Department of Homeland Security, where he served until 2005. Next, Mariscal brought the ticketing agency Flavorus into Mexico and also became vice president at the integrated marketing firm Pluribus Media in Los Angeles.

In 2003, Mariscal was elected the first vice president of communications for the Stonewall Young Democrats. In 2005, he was elected vice president of finance for the California Young Democrats.

In March 2014, Mariscal was elected to another term in the GWNC, where he currently serves as the chairman of the Outreach Committee and is a budget representative. In 2013, Mariscal was elected treasurer of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Coalition, and in January of 2014 he was elected vice chairman of the same organization. Mariscal is a founder of his Neighborhood Watch Program, and he was successful in persuading Paramount Studios to donate the funds to install the neighborhood signs. More recently Councilman Mitch O’Farrell has nominated Mariscal to a seat on the Central Area Planning Commission. Mariscal is also a graduate of the Los Angeles Fire Department’s CERT program.

Mariscal serves on the Board of Directors of Bienestar Human Services, and the Larchmont Village Neighborhood Association. He has served on the boards of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (LAGLCC), and the National Women’s Political Caucus (NWPC).

Mariscal took residence in the Larchmont Village neighborhood of Los Angeles in 2000, where he and his partner of 12 years, Michael Walkoski, avidly build their life together while looking forward to stewarding the future of our great city. For more information, visit

Read our Q&A with Fred Mariscal »

Tomas O’Grady

I was raised on a farm in Ireland, so I’m no stranger to hard work and know the value of being resourceful when “throwing money at a problem” simply isn’t an option. I moved to the United States in the early 90s, restored old brownstones in Hoboken, N.J., and by the age of 31 was able to retire. My wife, Justine, and I are raising our four children in Los Feliz, in the “green” home that I designed and built.

I have dedicated the last seven years to unpaid public service because I believe that Los Angeles could be the most dynamic city of the 21st century. Through our nonprofit EnrichLA, we’ve built more than 70 edible school gardens on a shoestring.

With parents and teachers, together, we worked with the mother of all bureaucracies, LAUSD, to transform King Middle School into an academic powerhouse. I have worked to offer the residents of Los Angeles more pedestrian- and bike-friendly roads and to save and repurpose historical gems such as L.A. Historic Monument #908.

I will probably never be satisfied with the status quo. I would like to bring this can-do attitude to City Hall. For more information, visit

Read our Q&A with Tomas O’Grady »

Joan Pelico

Joan Pelico has spent the last nine years working at Los Angeles City Hall, starting as a field representative and working her way up to her current position as chief of staff for Councilman Paul Koretz. In that role she has developed a reputation as a champion for the effective delivery of constituent services.

In 2005, Joan began work as field deputy to Councilman Weiss. In 2009, newly elected Councilman Koretz, at the urging of the constituents, kept Joan on staff. In 2010, Joan was promoted to district director and by 2013 Joan was made chief of staff by Koretz.

Under the leadership of the Koretz, Joan has been involved with the hillside ordinance, spearheaded the effort to repair the Coldwater pipe blow-out, keeping the Los Encinos State Historic Park from closing, securing funds for Laurel Canyon Park, increasing fines for smoking in the Canyons and hillsides, the motion to create a Wildlife Corridor Ordinance, and amending the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance.

Before her work in City Hall, Joan served as the director of development for Sherman Oaks Elementary School. She was involved with in creating the SOPA Kid’s Center on campus where funds went directly to the school for programs. She tripled parent participation, funding, and created a partnership between the businesses, the neighborhood and the school.

Originally from the Bronx, Joan moved to California in 1977 and started in the personal fitness industry. Joan founded the first vocational school for fitness teachers to be approved by the Superintendent of Public Instruction of the State of California.

Joan resides in Sherman Oaks where she has lived for the past 26 years. She is the proud mother of a wonderful 20 year-old young woman, and she is a cancer survivor since 1999. For more information, visit

Read our Q&A with Joan Pelico »

Carolyn Ramsay

I am a neighborhood advocate and the only candidate with nearly two decades of experience standing up for this community at City Hall to create more parks and open space, reduce crime, and fix our crumbling streets and sidewalks.

I’ve lived with my husband, Andy Goodman, and our two children, Dan and Olivia, in our Wilshire-area home for more than 20 years. I’ve served as President of the Windsor- Square Association, and the Los Angeles Program Director for the Trust For Public Land. For nearly eight years, I worked with Councilmember Tom LaBonge as a Field Deputy, Communications Deputy, and Chief of Staff.

I’m running for City Council because we still have a lot of problems to solve – making Los Angeles work better for residents and small business owners, making our communities safer and more livable, improving our infrastructure, reducing traffic congestion, stopping bad development, and getting our local economy back on track with good jobs.

I have the strong support of Councilmembers LaBonge and O’Farrell, as well as dozens of the key community leaders I’ve been working with for the past 15 years to improve our neighborhoods. For more information, visit

Read our Q&A with Carolyn Ramsay »

David Ryu

David Ryu is director of development and public affairs at one of L.A.’s largest nonprofit health-care providers: Kedren Acute Psychiatric Hospital and Community Health Center. Part of his work is building coalitions to address public issues from healthcare access to chronic homelessness.

Although he’s never been part of the crowd at City Hall, David knows public policy and public budgets. As senior deputy to County Supervisor Yvonne Burke, he worked for years on issues like public health, children and family services, transportation and senior services. He helped oversee the county budget, and was a special investigator for the Auditor-Controller, rooting out waste and fraudulent expenditures.

David majored in economics at UCLA; studied public policy and administration at Rutgers; won a prestigious United Nations graduate internship; and was a Netkal Fellow at USC’s School of Social Work.

David serves on the Wilshire Center-Koreatown Neighborhood Council. He’s Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s appointee to the Consumer Affairs Advisory Commission and Speaker Emeritus John Pérez’s appointee to the State Health Professions Education Foundation Board of Trustees. He’s president of the UCLA Asian Pacific Alumni Assn., and board member for the Anti-Defamation League, Asian Business Assn., Korean American Scholarship Foundation, and LA County Library Foundation. For more information, visit

Read our Q&A with David Ryu »

Ross Sarkissian

As an outsider to City Hall, my focus will be on policy, not politics.

I envision a city that is composed of small villages and neighborhoods that have thriving main streets and are connected by smart transportation. It is a city whose budgets are balanced, and whose small businesses are charting the course for the new economy.

Our council member should have an analytical approach to problem solving; a strong educational background and a proven track record of engagement in the community. I am that candidate.

I’m a graduate of our own Occidental College and earned a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. As a former Coro Fellow in Public Affairs, I understand how policy and politics works. I just prefer the policy.

The major issues facing the district are the city’s structural deficit; the stifling traffic; and the competitive hurdles small businesses face. All these issues should be approached from a long term perspective. This requires fresh thinking and a willingness to focus on policies, not politics.

To learn more of my vision for L.A., please visit I’m asking for your vote on March 3. Together, we can build a better Los Angeles.

Read our Q&A with Ross Sarkissian »

Mike Schaefer

Mike Schaefer, a California native, is the best educated, most experience of the 14 ballot choices.

He was educated at Notre Dame, UC Berkeley and Georgetown Law, with doctorate in jurisprudence; also studies at USC and UCLA.

Previously, he was a city prosecutor; a two-term elected City Councilman of California’s second largest city, San Diego; served on the County Board of Public Health there; worked on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and was a financial investigator and analyst for the Cal State Corporations Commission; and a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission financial analyst, clearing proxy material for listed public corporations.

Mike has decades of business experience in Los Angeles, from Hollywood office marketing his Avalon, Catalina Island hotel to mid-Wilshire apartment investment, plus background acting experience with CBS’ “Criminal Minds.”

Mike Schaefer is a recognized expert in election law. His cases have assured all Californians the right to vote, and he “invented” the alphabetical listing law that requires all California ballots to list candidates names randomly, not by alphabet, ensuring fundamental fairness, as there is an advantage to being first. His federal case, Schaefer v. Townsend, 215 F3d 1031, struck down federal candidate residence requirements in all states. He is best able to make sound decisions for all of us based on presentations, investigation and what’s right. He will make the City Council listen. For more information, visit

Read our Q&A with Mike Schaefer »

Steve Veres

Steve Veres led the turnaround of America’s largest community college system. As the president of the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees, he increased fiscal accountability, promoted transparency, and cleaned up the district’s construction problems. Under his leadership, the L.A. Community College District has balanced its budget, improved credit ratings, and expanded critical job training programs.

As the Los Angeles Director to State Senate Leader Kevin de León, Steve works hard every day to protect and empower middle class families. Working with local lawmakers, he helped clean up the L.A. River, expanded access to higher education, and secured funding to build 17 new parks in Los Angeles. In 2014, Steve helped lead the effort to triple California’s Film and Television Tax Credit and make it more accountable to taxpayers. The bill was praised as one of the most significant steps to protect California’s film industry jobs in the past 100 years.

Steve’s long record of public service includes elections to the San Fernando City Council and appointments to the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s San Fernando Valley Service Sector Governance Council, the Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Review Committee, and the Metropolitan Water District.

A Los Angeles native, Steve attended Loyola High School and earned his undergraduate degree from UCLA. He was a graduate student and teaching assistant in UCLA’s History department. He is a former public school teacher and has taught various college courses at UCLA and Los Angeles Trade-Technical College. Additionally, Steve worked as a journalist and news editor.

Steve lives in Sherman Oaks with his wife and three daughters. For more information, visit

Read our Q&A with Steve Veres »