Joe Bray-Ali’s run for Los Angeles City Council has hit a speedbump.
The challenger to incumbent Gil Cedillo has lost his endorsements from the L.A. Times and Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, as well as bike activist coalition Bike the Vote L.A. amid the recent revelations of his history of making bigoted comments online.
“The Los Angeles Times endorsed community activist Joe Bray-Ali for City Council over incumbent Gil Cedillo because he seemed refreshingly energetic, well-prepared on the issues, knowledgeable about land-use policy — and likely to shake up what had become an entrenched political system,” the Times wrote in an April 27 editorial. “But this week, another side of Bray-Ali was revealed when the website LAist reported that he had frequented viciously racist areas of the Internet and participated in shocking and entirely unacceptable conversations.
“The revelations are so deeply disturbing — raising serious questions about both his judgment and his character — that The Times has re-evaluated its original position. For the first time in recent memory, the editorial board is officially rescinding its endorsement,” it added.
Bray-Ali, an Indian-Hungarian-Irish Jewish and Muslim Democrat, previously left a trail of inappropriate comments on online forum Voat. As recently as a little over a year ago, Bray-Ali had left comments on a racist forum and a fat-shaming forum. He also wrote in another thread on the site that gender reassignment surgery for transgender people should be “criticized as a shameful excess,” according to a LAist.com report.
The council candidate confirmed he made the comments and has apologized, as well as deleted the comments in question.
"This is an election about important issues. I have put the fight for a better future in jeopardy because of my personal mistakes," Bray-Ali told LAist. "Looking back on the comments, I’m embarrassed and ashamed. I apologize to my wife, daughter, family, and community for putting them in this situation. My commitment to being accountable and of service to the community continues."
Bray-Ali, despite losing the endorsements and seven current city council members calling for him to pull from the race, said he plans to continue to run for the District 1 office, which will hold its runoff election May 16.
Following the controversial comments coming to light, Bray-Ali added to the controversy in a statement in which he admitted to cheating on his wife, failing to pay sales tax on his bike shop and continuing to make indecent comments on his Facebook page.
He said in a report that he believes the new information will serve as a distraction from the need to replace Cedillo, adding that the comments and actions do not reflect who he is as a candidate, though they do show he is a human with flaws.
In an LA Daily News report, he said that his reputation is “already mud” and that he is just trying to give voters a good option opposed to Cedillo.