District 8 candidates eye economic growth for South LA

Leimert Park is one of the areas included in District 8. | Intersections

Leimert Park is one of the areas included in District 8. | Intersections

Council District 8 in South L.A. — which includes Baldwin Hills, Crenshaw, Leimert Park and West Adams — is the site of what many residents feel is an important council race that could set the tone for future economic growth in the area.

Current councilman Bernard Parks cannot run again because of term limits. After 12 years in office, the former Los Angeles Police Department Chief is stepping down after having earned a reputation for fiscal conservatism and fighting labor unions even if it meant losing City Hall allies. On a local level, Parks made strides to improve quality of life issues, such as launching a partnership with the Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative to repair more than 100 sidewalks. 

See also: Bernard Parks reflects on 50 years of public service

Economic expansion has become a key issue for District 8 candidates as they prepare for the election on March 3.. Employment in District 8 increased by 7.6 percent in 2013. But the bulk of the growth occurred in jobs that pay workers less than $25,000 per year, according to the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.

All four candidates have promised to spur revitalization but each proposes a different way to tackle the issue. Read on for a brief profile of each candidate…

Marqueece Harris-Dawson, 45, has served as President and CEO of Community Coalition since 2004 and is endorsed by Congresswoman Karen Bass, City Council President Herb Wesson and L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. Harris-Dawson has promised that if elected he will focus on job creation.

“You got to build a job training facility on Crenshaw with a big giant sign that says ‘you don’t need a high school diploma, and you can even have a (felony) record,’” he told KPCC.

Forescee Hogan-Rowles, 57, is the CEO of R.I.S.E. Financial Pathways, a nonprofit that specializes in small business loans. She is endorsed by former Congresswoman Diane Watson and former L.A. Fire Chief Douglas Barry. As councilwoman, one of her aims is to repair the city infrastructure.

“I will prioritize restoring city services with a focus on fixing potholes and broken curbs, trimming trees, cleaning alleyways and stopping illegal dumping,” she told the Los Angeles Times.Hogan-Rowles lost a close race to take Parks’ seat on the council four years ago.

Bobbie Jean Anderson, 76, has the backing of the local Democratic Party, U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, former Councilwoman Jan Perry, Parks and SEIU 721, one the largest labor unions in the city. She said she wants to focus on making sure funds are allocated properly to the district.

“The more affluent districts that get equal resources may not need those resources,” she told KPCC. “Clearly our district really falls short of getting what we need.”

Robert Cole, 49, is a political consultant and former president of the Baldwin Hills Homeowners Association. Georgia Congressman John Lewis, for whom he once worked, and the Rev. Cecil Murray have endorsed him. Cole told the Los Angeles Times prostitution on Figueroa and Hoover streets is one of his major concerns.

“It breeds negativity,” Cole told the Times.  “At night there’s drug dealing and street racing.”


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