Daniel Lee Makes History as City’s First African-American City Councilman
Lee, a community organizer, came within 143 votes of reaching that goal in April 2016 but ultimately lost that race. In another close race on April 10 2018 Lee was able to beat Albert Vera Jr., 3,335 votes to 3,123.
Alex Fisch won the most votes in the city council race with 3,819.
Cynthia Gibson of CKG Communications, a marketing, communications and public relations firm in Fox Hills stated, “It’s about time. We definitely need to see more people with different perspectives and different cultures in elective office.”
Lee neither chose to focus on the potentially groundbreaking possibilities of his candidacy nor did he downplay them.
During the campaign Daniel Lee had stated, “I really don’t want someone to vote for me because of that, but if I am elected I think I would feel a sense of responsibility to be a mentor and a role model for others, especially kids who might think, ‘Marcus did it, so maybe I can too.”
Lee believes he can thank his election win on an influx of more progressive voters becoming more active and open to the prospect of a black candidate.
“There has been a lot of messaging about Culver City being a progressive city for the last decade. I think Culver City is becoming more progressive, but progressive voters have not always been showing up to vote in local elections,” the Lee said. “That’s a very important story but the African –American aspect is a larger story.”
Lee first learned that Culver City had never elected a black candidate to the city council in 2014 from Meghan Sahli-Wells while serving as a member of the city Martin Luther King Day Committee.
“I was a little surprised to hear that,” Lee admitted. “There have only been five women elected and that surprised me too.”
It was not a central tenet of his campaign, but Lee believed it was essential to “talk about why [electing a black candidate to the council] has never happened and what are the reasons why it hasn’t happened?”
Martin Feinberg, local listing agent, was surprised to learn that Lee will be one of the few renters to sit on the council in recent years. As such, Lee will be able to bring a different perspective regarding housing affordability and how the Culver City Real Estatearea can create more affordable housing.
Daniel Lee will join a very diverse council on April 30, possibly the most diverse in Culver City history. It will include Vice Mayor Thomas Small who is Filipino-American, Sahli-Wells who is bilingual after having lived for years in France, and Councilman Gorän Eriksson who is a native of Sweden.