Column: Kenneth Mejia rode the wave of the new left and swamped L.A.’s political establishment. Now he’s out, facing voter anger over his tenure in city government
On a recent Friday, Kenneth Mejia, a former member of the City Council, walked into his downtown Los Angeles restaurant on a crisp, crisp November afternoon.
The owner, who didn’t give his name, introduced him as the new chairman of the Board of Supervisors.
“You guys know,” he said with a grin, “you know, who I am. I’m on the Board of Supervisors. I’m a super power. I can do anything I want.”
On the walls of the small dining room hung election-year banners, including a rainbow-colored poster of Mejia’s signature, which he painted onto his office door when he took office in 2015.
Mejia, a Democrat who ran on a left-wing platform, ousted veteran Democratic incumbent Eric Garcetti in June 2015. Now he faces voter anger over his time in public office.
He’s out of the council. So is his successor, former Councilman Gil Cedillo, a four-term incumbent who’s facing reelection in November.
A ‘shameless politician’
More than a decade ago, Mejia left his position as an intern attorney for the county’s public defender’s office to become councilman. At the time, he was working towards an MBA at UCLA.
He moved to the corner of 8th and Spring streets where he practiced law, and became friends with a street musician named James Browning, who was also a volunteer on the city’s homeless outreach campaign when Mejia was on the council.
Mejia would stop by James’s home in the middle of the night after delivering a homeless outreach mission. The two would talk baseball. They would watch basketball games together.
“I’m a city councilman,” Browning said. “I have a right to do what I want.”