Grass Roots Political Action ... Not just Noise

MY TURN-We have a Primary Election on March 7 and will probably see an underwhelming turnout. Maybe it’s because we are still exhausted from the recent national election and its subsequent events. Unfortunately, the March primary and the May final will have more short term -- and perhaps long term -- effects on your day to day living. I must hedge that by saying local elections will matter more providing we don’t have some huge natural or political disaster. 

Local elections are not exciting. More money is being spent on the race for Board of Education than other offices. I have never seen so many negative flyers against one candidate: Steve Zimmer. He has been blamed for everything wrong with the LA school system and a few other things thrown in for good measure. I am surprised he hasn't been accused of initiating the recent earthquakes. The opposition to him has spent over a million dollars. That could buy a lot of supplies in District 4. 

In my last article I pointed out that this City Council race has all incumbents running except for District 7, the Northeast portion of the San Fernando Valley. Sometimes those who live outside the SFV don't realize that the Valley is as large as Chicago (220 sq. miles) and has almost as many land uses.   

Years ago, I didn't vote for secession from LA, but I now understand why the NE portion of the Valley was so enthusiastic about it. All fifteen Council Districts have their unique sets of challenges. On Wednesday, the LA Times wrote about District 15 and its very divergent stakeholders and problems. The majority of pundits seem to believe that the number of members on both the LA County Board of Supervisors and on the LA City Council is inadequate. Both should be enlarged so that they can more effectively represent their stakeholders. 

Acknowledging that all districts have issues, I must admit that Council District 7 seems to have more than its fair share. Now it seems to be motivated to not to make the same mistake by electing a City Councilmember with his own agenda. Fortunately, Filipe Fuentes resigned and City Council President Herb Wesson took District 7 under his umbrella. He showed up for events and meetings and was able to undo some of the damage that Fuentes inflicted on his stakeholders. 

The good news is there are 19 City Council candidates running campaigns in CD 7. The bad news is they have 19 candidates running for this non-partisan City Council seat. Will there be a runoff? Absolutely! 

Two candidates who have held other local government positions have raised the most money in the District 7 -- by six figures. The majority have raised under $20,000. In looking at the group of candidates I was pleased to see the number of neighborhood activists throwing their hats in the ring. Even though there are only about 65,000 stakeholders in District 7, it runs the gamut economically, politically and ethnically. 

CD 7 has all the challenges the other districts have and a few extra -- plus Governor Brown’s High Speed Rail is supposed to run through their community. They are, as a group very vocal and even though there are the usual power struggles and conflicts over projects, they have historically been participants in trying to get things done for their community. In my opinion, they are a good example of grassroots "doers"...not just noisemakers. 

Several Neighborhood Councils have sponsored candidate forums in the NE Valley. Last Saturday two NCs (Sunland Tujunga and North Hills East) offered one hosted by the Pacoima Chamber of Commerce and All Nations Church. Twenty questions were sent to each candidate. You can view those questions and their answers at the Sunland-Tujunga NC website: The candidates were also allowed to post a two-minute video on the site. After the formal part of the program, visitors were invited to have one on one time at each candidate’s table. Most had flyers, volunteer support as well as the answers to the 20 questions. Measure S seems to be the most controversial issue. 

I also urge you to check the Los Angeles City Ethics Department’s website. It is a real eye opener to see where the money is coming from and to whom. 

I know the last thing we need is more political talk. I have started to switch channels and am enjoying Madam Secretary and House of Cards as my political diversion. At least we can root for the good guys and hiss the villains. At the moment, it’s hard to tell who is who in Washington D.C. 

This is another reason why we need to select our local candidates very carefully. California may end up being on its own with some issues -- although I understand British Colombia has invited California, Oregon, and Washington to join them. 

As always comments are welcome.


(Denyse Selesnick is a CityWatch columnist. She is a former publisher/journalist/international event organizer. Denyse can be reached at: Cartoon: Australian Financial Review. Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.