Indian American who took LA City Council by storm


Urban planner Nithya Raman, born in India, has won a fiercely-contested race for Los Angeles City Council by defeating David Ryu, an incumbent council member in 17 years. In the election, Raman won 52.5 percent of the vote, while garnered 47.21 percent votes.

According to media report, Raman got the strongest support from the east side of the district in dense neighborhoods of Los Feliz and Hollywood in southern California.

She also attracted 58 percent of the votes in precincts where most households make less than $60,000 a year, said the report.

“To the people of Council District 4, I’m so grateful for the trust you’ve placed in me. I know we’re heading into a challenging moment as a city, but I am ready and excited to navigate it with you,” tweeted Raman after winning the poll.

I have countless people to thank individually. But for now, I just want to celebrate the joy of working with so many of you to fight for our city — and get ready for the work to come.

There will be joy in that work, too. Because we’re all going to City Hall together.

— Nithya Raman (@nithyavraman) November 7, 2020

Raman was born in Kerala and moved to the United States at the age of six. “My experience as a young immigrant to this country, and as one of the only people of color in my classrooms, shaped my decision later in life to focus on social justice in my work,” she said in the website Nithya For The City.

After graduating from public schools, she attended Harvard University and later got her Masters in Urban Planning at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Raman worked in India before and after her graduate studies. “spent more than seven years working in both Delhi and Chennai on issues facing slum-dwellers and informal sector workers, who were fighting for basic services like running water, toilets, protection from evictions, and better working conditions,” according to her.

In 2013, she moved from India to Los Angeles to be with her husband. “Stunned by rising homelessness in our part of the city, I and a group of neighbors started SELAH Neighborhood Homeless Coalition in 2017, and grew it into one of the most active all-volunteer homeless services nonprofits in the city,” she said.

Raman said that she spent nights and weekends trying to expand services in her community, and grew more and more frustrated by how little help they were getting from elected officials. “So, I decided to do something about it,” she said as she decided to contest the election.