9th District Candidate Closeup: Mike Davis


A shocking amount of sunlight permeates the “Mike Davis for City Council” campaign signs that paper the front windows of his campaign headquarters. Inside, precinct maps and outreach goals accent lime green and bright orange walls. Six volunteers sit at two temporary tables, munching on pizza and tacos and shuffling call sheets.

Davis bustles out from behind an equally temporary cubicle wall, wearing a pinstriped suit to knock on voters’ doors during the final week of his campaign.

The popup office embodies the quick turnaround Davis seeks. He termed out of the California State Assembly 48th District seat in November and hopes to assume a Los Angeles City Council seat this summer.

“I have the experience of working in this community. Some people say that they were born here, but I can tell you that I’ve worked here over the last 26 years,” Davis said.

Born in North Carolina, Davis moved to Los Angeles for graduate school at California State University at Northridge, CSU Dominguez Hills and the University of Southern California. He was elected to the State Assembly in 2006 and represented Eastern Los Angeles County, including Covina, El Monte and Azusa.

Before that, he worked for Congresswoman Maxine Waters representing San Bernardino and Los Angeles County Supervisor Yvonne Burke.

Burke managed the Second District, which encompasses all of what is now CD 9.

L.A. City Council is a logical next step for a long-term politician, Davis said.

“If you’re a younger person who is looking toward public service, you look at what is available. So having worked in this area most of my career, I kind of figured that would be what I would do next,” Davis said.

Davis has also filed a Statement of Intent to run for California Secretary of State in 2014.

For as long as he represents the district, however, Davis said his goals are “very basic.”

“I think we need more resources for public works,” Davis said. “That means cleaning the alleys. It means trimming the trees. It means repairing the sidewalks. Unlike the legislature, where I have been, we don’t have the big, glorious, sexy ideas.”

In the legislature, Davis worked on legislation softening California’s Three Strikes law and counting prisoners as residents of their home counties, not the counties of their incarceration. He contrasts those long-term legislative goals to what will be required of him on city council.

“We have a responsibility on the city council to provide the most basic of services—cleaning up our neighborhoods, making sure we have public safety, making sure we develop a relationship with corporations and businesses that result, most of all, in jobs for our young people and for those who are unemployed,” Davis said.

Davis raised $99,000 for the race, none of which came from independent expenditures. Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Terry Hara led fundraising with about $218,000, and State Senator Curren Price accrued more than $377,000 in independent expenditures. The Ninth District’s race has been this year’s second most expensive, after District 13.

The candidate who wins Davis’s race will fill the seat vacated by Jan Perry, another mayoral candidate. Perry has not endorsed a potential replacement, but her predecessor, Rita Walters, declared her support for Ana Cubas months ago.

Perry and Walters are both African-American, and a black representative traditionally fills the ninth seat. The district, however, has become overwhelmingly Latino in the past few decades.

Two of Davis’s volunteers spoke to voters in Spanish. He does not speak the language.

“I have a Spanish tape and I’m going to get back on it,” Davis said. “Yes, there is a language difference, but what I have discovered is that there still is a working together between both communities.”

CD9 has also become one of the city’s poorest after losing its downtown tax base in redistricting last year. The district retained LA Live and USC, but lost Little Tokyo and most of the downtown business district.

“As a result, we are going to have to reorganize the way in which we look at revenues for the district. But I still know that we have to demand those revenues to improve services, public works services, and other things,” Davis said.

Davis did not provide specifics about potential sources of those revenues.

The assemblyman’s more detailed goal is his immediate one—to knock on several hundred doors before Tuesday’s vote, and on Wednesday, to begin the next chapter of his political career.

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