My life in Los Angeles and the 13th District goes back 30 years when I moved to a crowded Hollywood apartment from Oklahoma, where I was born and raised. It was a long held dream to come here and make my way in life. Eventually I settled in the Glassell Park area in 1992. Ironically enough, it was then that I became very familiar with Echo Park, Elysian Heights, and Silver Lake. I volunteered for a number of years for Project Angel Food, and delivered meals to home bound clients who were living with life threatening illnesses. My weekly route was "Northeast Los Angeles and Glendale". Most of my clients were spread throughout the areas I would later work in as a Public Servant, beginning in 2002. That familiarity proved very useful.
Through the 1990's to 2002, I ran businesses; hiring, training, and managing staff, managing P & L's, inventory controls, and learned how to deal with the city and county bureacracy. I learned what it is like to pay bills, make payroll, and turn a profit. I know what our small businesses struggle with every day. I also know they are the backbone of our economy in Los Angeles. Equally important for my future as a Public Servant, I learned what true customer service is; having empathy, and delivering everything to the best of ones ability in a caring, thoughtful, non-judgemental way.
By the time City Councilmember Eric Garcetti brought me aboard in 2002, I had also been very active in my community of Glassell Park. I had volunteered for years, organizing community clean ups, shutting down a narcotics and gang house, helping to get our recreation center rennovated, leading a city code enforcement program to clean up neglected and blighted properties, helping to found our Neighborhood Council, and serving as the President of the Glassell Park Improvement Association.
My nearly ten years working in the 13th District Council Office was something I loved doing every day of every week! I was promoted 3 times: I started as a Field Deputy, then Deputy Director, District Director, then Senior Advisor. I worked across the whole district, in every neighborhood. In Echo Park I worked closely with numerous people and organizations. Working together, here are some of our accomplishements: We created the Echo Park Farmers Market, made Echo Park Lake a historic landmark, then got it successfully accepted in the Prop O funding stream, resulting in a 67 million dollar rennovation. We also oversaw the rennovations of the boathouse from two separate grants that the office was able to secure. We created the Echo Park Traffic Management plan on either side of the Sunset and Glendale corridors, which has significantly reduced cut through traffic in our residential neighborhoods. We convinced the foursquare gospel church to place their parking structure along Glendale and not decimate Lemoyne where they were going to originally place it. We brought in a community design overlay zone, giving some protection to our historic core around the lake. We created filming guidelines (2nd in the city) to better regulate location filming which had gotten completely out of control. I was able to convice FEMA to make significant repairs to Elysian Park after some trails were badly damaged in the 04/05 floods.
The entire time I have worked in the District, the city faced budget deficits; all ten years. Year after year, I witnessed our core services being chipped away at, including a reduction in sidewalk repair and replacement, street resurfacing, and tree trimming. Despite this, I was able to get the department to focus on the worst of the worst crumbling streets in Echo Park and Silver Lake, getting them resurfaced, and rebuild some of our worst sidewalks. I was able to get several traffic signals installed across the District by the Department of Transportation too, including Glendale at Aaron, and especially left turn signals at Alvarado & Sunset, and Glendale South on to Allesandro.
However, merely being on staff has not allowed me to do enough! Although I have the relationships in the city, can pull the levers of government to make things happen, and connect constituents with the specialists they need, I will be able to do so much more as your Councilmember. You deserve someone who is focused, has a track record, has vision, knows the district, listens and responds, and will exhibit leadership on your behalf, every single time. You deserve a leader who will be in the district every day, who will hire and train a staff that will uphold the highest standards for public service, and you deserve someone who will challenge the status quo when it will make this city better but who also knows how to negotiate with other leaders for the greater good. No one else will bring this level of experience or determination to bear on your behalf.
This city faces some daunting challenges; a culture of complacency at our building and safety and planning counters. A constant budget deficit no one is addressing in a structural way, traffic and transit challenges that erode our quality of life, and a general sense from residents and business owners that no one in the city cares; that responsibility is avoided, and decisions are made based on politics. My vision of the district is that we are part of a city that is firing on all cylinders; that we have our fiscal house in order, we fill our potholes and resurface our streets on time, that we keep our planning, zoning, and land use house in order, that we not only create beautiful parks and public amenities, but that we can maintain them, keep them staffed, and funded, and that we continue our progress on public safety. We have lost some ground lately, but I believe it is our destiny to achieve greatness as a world-class city, as a society, and as a District. But that cannot happen without the right people at the helm, making tough decisions, but thinking creatively about new solutions. I am one of those people and I am ready to take on any challenge!
My next 2 public events:
1. Fundraiser at Alegria Restaurant, Tuesday, May 8, 6:30-8:30 p.m. 3510 Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake 90026
2. "Neighborhood Councils" - round table discussion at Taix Restaurant, Wednesday, May 9, 6:00-8:00 p.m., 1911 Sunset Boulevard, Echo Park 90026