A former member of the Los Angeles City Council is criticizing a South L.A. candidate for accusing his opponent of using race as a tactic in the May 21 runoff campaign.
State Sen. Curren Price, who is African-American, is running against Ana Cubas, a Latina, to represent the Ninth District, which includes much of South Los Angeles.
Speaking to the Baptist Ministers Conference Monday, Price said: “In this campaign we have an opponent who is committed to dividing the Ninth along racial lines."
Rita Walters, who represented the district from 1991-2001 and has endorsed Cubas, asked Price to retract his comments.
“I am disturbed that a candidate trying to earn the trust of voters in a district where Latinos and African-Americans have lived side-by-side for decades would utter remarks so clearly aimed at inciting friction between both groups of voters,” Walters said in an open letter.
The Price campaign issued a statement Wednesday that did not respond to a request for examples to support his accusation against Cubas. The campaign also did not respond to Walters' call for a joint press conference between the candidates to pledge "to conduct only the highest principles of political campaigning."
Latinos represent 75 percent of the Ninth District population; African-Americans account for 16 percent. However, an African-American politician has represented the area since Gilbert Lindsay was appointed in 1963.
Speaking to KPCC, Cubas rejected Price’s comments.
“Not once have I ever talked about race as an issue. What I always talk about is unity around the issues that matter to us,” Cubas said. “I believe it’s irresponsible of someone like Sen. Price to be discussing this candidacy in those terms.”
Price also criticized a recent L.A. Times article that reported on the changing demographics in the district. Price said "the mainstream media [is] determined to declare an end to an era when black elected officials could represent South L.A. on the city council.”