On May 20, in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, Lalo Vargas, the first openly socialist candidate, launched their campaign for Los Angeles City Council District 14 – contesting the seat of disgraced Councilmember Kevin de Leon.
Lalo Vargas is a high school science teacher, United Teachers of LA member, tenant organizer and a proud member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation. Unlike corporate-backed career politicians, who hardly set foot in working class communities except briefly at the height of the campaign season, Vargas has already been hitting the streets of Lincoln Heights alongside enthusiastic volunteers to talk to the working people of the community face to face. Community members have expressed frustration with the political status quo, and many are already excited to vote for a socialist candidate who will stand up for them instead of cutting crooked deals for political gains.
Sheila Xiao, a community organizer and resident of CD-14, talked about why she supports the Lalo campaign: “Lalo is also an educator who understands the deep fractures in our education system. As a new mother, it is critically important that our educators understand how capitalism has systematically defunded our education systems, attempting to reduce a place of critical thought and learning into childcare. Our students deserve fighters and advocates like Lalo – to fight on behalf of our students and what they deserve.”
Vargas is running for the city council seat currently held by Kevin de Leon, who was a central part of the Los Angeles City Council scandal in October 2022. A leaked video exposed de Leon’s true racist hatred against his working class and immigrant constituents, which makes it clear that he is not fit to represent the interests of CD14. Widespread condemnation in Los Angeles and around the U.S. forced fellow councilmembers, then-President Nury Martinez and Gil Cedillo, to resign, but not de Leon. He ignored sustained calls to resign from his constituents and others, including President Biden.
Instead, de Leon is shamelessly running for reelection in a district where he is widely hated. His contempt for his constituents was evident when he physically assaulted protesters demanding his resignation after his true racist character was exposed. Even before the scandal, de Leon has failed in his role as a councilmember to represent and safeguard the interests of CD14 residents since his election in 2020. He cares more about his $300k+ annual salary than he does for the needs of working people.
The difference between Kevin de Leon and Lalo Vargas couldn’t be more stark. While one has been fomenting racial division in order to line his pockets, the other has been building solidarity and organization in neighboring communities and LA as a whole. As a member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, Vargas has been on the front lines of the class struggles, protesting police terror, fighting for women’s and immigrant rights, and organizing tenants that were being exploited and abused by their landlords. Vargas was on the picket line with his fellow teachers in support of SEIU, a strike that saw 65,000 education workers shut down LAUSD for three days and win their demands.
Lazaro Aguerro, a longtime resident of Lincoln Heights in CD14 shared why he wants a socialist candidate. “I lived in Lincoln Heights for 20 years, and we really need somebody that stands for us, for the people. We need somebody who will go to City Hall to stand with us and fight for us. For the poor people, for the community. And that is why I am supporting Lalo…The previous council members didn’t do anything for the people.”
Vargas continues to be involved in working class struggles across Los Angeles and will truly represent working class interests in Los Angeles City Hall.
The Lalo campaign has a Five Point Socialist Program to address the most pressing needs of the communities of CD14.
- Housing is a right
- End to police terror
- Environmental justice
- Expand worker’s rights
- Free and mass public transit
After decades of misrepresentation by opportunist politicians like Kevin de Leon, CD14 now has the opportunity to forge a new path by electing Lalo Vargas. Vargas has something that none of the other career politicians in the race ever will, a real record of fighting for and standing with the working people in Los Angeles.
Vargas on why they are running for City Council:
“Teachers can also have power. Homemakers can have power. Sanitation workers can take power. Anybody who’s a member of the working class, we’re the ones that are creating the wealth of the city, we’re the ones making the city run, so we’re the ones that should be running the city. We’re the ones who should have the power to make the decisions about our own livelihoods. And being a racist, and being corrupt should be an automatic disqualification for holding any kind of decision making power.
“Because when working people stand up and organize, that’s how we get things done.”
Join the Party for Socialism and Liberation in supporting Lalo Vargas’s campaign, endorsed by the Peace and Freedom Party, for CD14. Follow the campaign on Facebook and Instagram (@laloforcd14 on both platforms) for updates. Donate to support the campaign here.