Voters in Council District 9 weighing the field of candidates

By Emilie Mateu

Listen to an audio story by Annenberg Radio News

On March 5th, voters from the Ninth District will take to the polls in order to fill Councilwoman Jan Perry’s seat.

I spoke with residentsin the South Central LA area – or tried to. Out of over twenty people, only five spoke English. In my first successful English interview, I asked a resident if he knew who Jan Perry was.

He immediately responded with all of the confidence in the world.

image“Oh yeah! That guy cracks me up,” he said.

Nope. Wrong. First of all, Jan Perry is a woman. Second of all, maybe she has a good sense of humor but that’s not something for which she’s typically known. Clearly this resident doesn’t know who Jan Perry is, but many others do. Perry has represented the Ninth District for 12 years and she’s now running for mayor.

She is the third African American to hold the 9th District seat. Fifty years ago, Gilbert Lindsay was the first. Since then, the demographics have changed and the Ninth District is now almost 80 percent Latino. Many residents in the district do not speak English and many do not vote.

“Unfortunately in South LA we have very low voter turnout and we want to change that,” said Jose Lara, a member of the South Central Neighborhood Council. “Because of the way our electoral system is many people are disenfranchised, many people don’t know when to vote, how to vote, where to vote.”

In speaking with residents, a few of them said t their main issue with elected officials is how out of touch they really are.

“When they come in, they ask for your vote, you vote for them and then what happens? No, you need to come in and try to look around and see what needs to be done. Because if you don’t look around how are you going to know?” one resident said.

“Where are the necessities for the poor? Out of sight, out of mind, out of money, out of time. I’m not asking for a whole lot, just help me with the necessities,” another resident said.

Lara and his organization are working to raise awareness about some of the main issues in the Ninth District. “We’re hoping that whoever represents us next will focus back on the community, will focus back on cleaning up our streets. Getting rid of the graffiti, fighting against crimes in the community. Making sure youth have correct opportunities and making sure schools are fully supported,” Lara said.

Race and ethnic diversity are huge factors in this election. The candidates are Mexican, Central American, Asian and African American in a district that is predominantly Latino.

“Whoever represents the Ninth District has to represent those interests as well,” Lara said.

But at the end of the day, even though the Latino community’s interests need to be represented, Ramiro Delarajon, the manager at Family Farms Market on Central Avenue, said, “It doesn’t really matter the ethnicity or the race. As long as they are looking out for the community. Yes I know things have changed but still people are people and that’s what matters. That they look out for the people,” Ramiro said.

The main District Nine candidates are listed below.

Manny Aldana, Neighborhood Council member
Ana Cubas, Former chief of staff for City Council member Jose Huizar
Mike Davis, State Assembly member, 48th district
Ron Gochez, Schoolteacher
Terry Hara, LAPD Deputy Chief
Curren Price, State Senator, 26th District
David Roberts, Former redistricting commissioner

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