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Angry voters, higher turnout, Hollywood money: How Nithya Raman gained an edge in L.A.

When urban planner Nithya Raman launched her bid for Los Angeles City Council last year, she was best known in her neighborhood for helping homeless residents get meals, showers and other aid.

By the time voters cast their ballots, the 39-year-old Silver Lake resident had become a powerful symbol for progressive activists, not just across the city but in other parts of the country, securing the endorsement of Bernie Sanders and favorable profiles from Vogue and the Daily Beast.

While votes are still being counted, Raman is in a strong position to unseat Councilman David Ryu, making him the first L.A. council member to be ousted in 17 years. Her first-place showing — she had 52.4% as of Wednesday — represents “a political earthquake” for City Hall, said Zev Yaroslavsky, a former councilman and county supervisor who heads the Los Angeles Initiative at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

Yaroslavsky predicted a Raman victory would embolden the movement that rallied for her — younger, grassroots activists who favored Bernie Sanders and are frustrated with City Hall — to […]

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