District 10 councilman Herb Wesson aims for another term

Herb Wesson speaks at a campaign event. | Kate Guarino

Herb Wesson speaks at a campaign event. | Kate Guarino

Correction Appended

The residents of District 10, a portion of which spans South Los Angeles, will vote for a new councilmember on March 3. Intersections interviewed the candidates ahead of the elections.

Standing among crowds of people chatting at his campaign rally, the man wearing black jeans, a collared shirt and grey oxford flats appears to be just another District 10 resident. In some ways City Council President Herb Wesson is just that, he said. Wesson has lived in the district for more years than he can count, and has represented the area since the beginning of his career in public service.

“I’m a very, very ordinary person who’s been selected to do extraordinary work,” he said.

As he prepared for the March 3 elections on a recent afternoon, Wesson said his inspiration for his work is never far from his mind. During much of his time at the historically black Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in the 1970s, Wesson said he did not know what he wanted to do. (He did not graduate from Lincoln until 1999 because an illness in his family prevented him from finishing his senior year.) But, that changed the day he heard Congressman Ron Dellums speak.

“When he spoke about civil rights and human rights and building coalitions at that moment that’s when I decided I wanted to be a public servant,” Wesson said, recalling the California Democrat’s speech at a fraternity sponsored event. [Read more…]

George McKenna wins LAUSD School Board, LAPD reacts to South LA death + USC attackers plead not guilty

George McKenna | electmckenna.com

LA School Report: George McKenna won the District 1 seat of the LAUSD School Board covering a swath of South L.A., beating opponent Alex Johnson with 53 percent of the vote. Just 8 percent of eligible voters turned out for the runoff election.

LA Times: The LAPD provides details on the controversial killing of 25-year-old Ezell Ford in South L.A.

Reuters: Four teenagers pleaded not guilty to the fatal attack of USC engineering graduate student Xinran Ji.

LA Weekly: South LA’s KIPP Empower Academy Charter School in the Vermont Knolls neighborhood is named as one of the “awesome LAUSD schools in affordable neighborhoods” in a piece by our colleague Ani Ucar from Annenberg Radio News.

NBC: School is back in session, and things are starting to get back to normal at Miramonte Elementary, the South L.A. campus plagued since 2012 by reports of child abuse.

KCET Artbound: The old church at 49th and Compton is actually a modernist gem by architect Rudolph Schindler.

CityWatch: Is predatory loaning happening in South L.A.?

OPINION: Meet Compton’s mayoral candidate Aja Brown

By Melissa Hebert

Aja Brown is a second-generation resident of Compton who has entered the municipal elections for Mayor of the City of Compton. Brown has an extensive background in planning and has experience working for Compton’s redevelopment agency.

imageAja Brown

Please state your name and time as a resident in the City of Compton, and which district you reside in?
Aja Brown, second-generation Compton resident. I reside in District 2.

What makes you qualified to run for the seat you wish to fill?
I have over 10 years of community development and economic development experience working with the municipalities of Gardena, Inglewood, Pasadena (former Planning Commissioner) and the City of Compton’s redevelopment agency. I am an urban planner by educational training. I graduated from the University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy, Planning and Development, and hold a B.S. in Policy, Planning and Development and a Master’s in Planning – emphasis Economic Development. [Read more…]

South LA voters could play tiebreaker in the mayoral election

Listen to an audio story by Annenberg Radio News

imageIn Tuesday’s mayoral election, about one-third of voters cast their ballots for Councilman Eric Garcetti and one-third for Wendy Greuel, propelling both candidates on to the May 21 runoff election. In the coming months, it’s all eyes on that remaining third–a group that includes many South L.A.voters.

Most of Garcetti’s votes came from the Westside through Hollywood and out into the East side. Greuel cleaned up in the Valley, where she used to be a councilwoman. Conservative Kevin James picked up more than 16 percent of the vote–with pockets of support scattered around the city. Councilwoman Jan Perry got just shy of 16 percent of the vote–with the vast majority of her votes coming from South L.A. Perry took 60 or 70 percent of the vote in some South LA neighborhoods.

“She dominated in South L.A.,” said Kokayi Kwa Jitahidi of The South Los Angeles Power Coalition. “Which puts her and her voters in a very, very strong position to determine who the next mayor will be.”

South L.A.’s voters–many of whom are African-American, could go either way in May.

“I think they’re up for grabs,” said former Los Angeles Daily News Editor Ron Kaye. “The question is will anybody vote? And is anything at stake that makes people want to vote?”

Perry’s primary campaign was more critical of Greuel than it was of Garcetti, which may improve Garcetti’s chances with her supporters. And many Latino groups have thrown support behind Garcetti, which could be significant in South LA, where more than 60 percent of residents are Latino. The Latino Coalition of Los Angeles PAC–an organization focused on representing the political interests of South American and Central Americans–officially endorsed Garcetti before the primary.

“Garcetti is a coalition builder,” said Latino Coalition president and founder Raul Claros. “He’s embraces the Latino coaltion’s focus.”

The group is also backing Ana Cubas in the Council District 9 election.

“When we met with them, Cubas and Garcetti had a comprehensive, logistical, practical and concrete plan for South LA,” said Claros.

Jitahidi said both Greuel and Garcetti have made promises to South L.A., and wants someone who will keep their promises to be elected. He said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa courted South L.A. in his mayoral campaign, but failed to deliver on his pledges.

“Both of them have given rhetoric to working with South L.A.,” Jitahidi said. “I think whoever wins has to be committed to actually making those promises true. I think only way we do that is if South L.A. really organizes in a coordinated and consistent way.”

He says he’ll be focused on boosting voter turnout. Turnout around the city was just 16 percent Tuesday, and even lower in South L.A.

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. [Read more…]

Closeups of the 2013 Los Angeles mayoral race candidates

As Antonio Villaraigosa bows out of his role as Los Angeles Mayor, several candidates have stepped up to the stage to snag his spot. Those looking to replace him are City Council Members Eric Garcetti and Jan Perry, entrepreneur Emanuel Pleitez, former federal prosecutor Kevin James and City Controller Wendy Greuel.

Rosalie Murphy has profile of the candidates to discover the issues they want to address for Angelenos.

Candidate Closeup: Eric Garcetti
City Councilmember Eric Garcetti leads polling in the days before LA’s mayoral primary. But is he a strong enough personality to lead the city politically? MORE…

Candidate Closeup: Wendy Greuel
In the days before March’s mayoral primary, City Controller Wendy Greuel leads the field in funds raised. She is expected to advance to the May runoff election. MORE…

Candidate Closeup: Kevin James
Kevin James is more like a watchdog than a City Hall outsider—a longtime Angeleno keeping a careful eye on its policymakers. MORE…

Candidate Closeup: Jan Perry
There are two narratives about City Councilmember Jan Perry. MORE…

Candidate Closeup: Emanuel Pleitez
Emanuel Pleitez is the Los Angeles mayoral race’s undisputed underdog. MORE…

Candidate Closeup: Eric Garcetti

Listen to an audio story from Annenberg Radio News

imageWe’re probably going to see a lot more of Eric Garcetti.

He served on Los Angeles City Council for more than a decade. The son of former District Attorney Gil Garcetti is only 42 years old, the second-youngest among the five leading candidates. He is expected to finish in one of the top two spots in the mayoral primary election March 5.

Garcetti is second in fundraising to City Controller Wendy Greuel, but he leads narrowly in polls. He’s been endorsed by a host of local leaders, including movie stars, unions, La Opinion and the LA Times.

“Eric Garcetti shows the most potential to lead LA into a more sustainable and confident future,” the Feb. 17 endorsement read [Read more…]

Wendy Greuel And Eric Garcetti Both Shine Among Environmental Groups

Click here to read the story.

California provides a golden opportunity for presidential fundraising

imagePresident Barack Obama spoke to an enthusiastic audience last night at Hollywood’s House of Blues, where he promoted his jobs bill, urged the crowd to stay motivated, and dealt with the odd heckler. But with tickets starting at $250, the focus of the event was fund-raising.

The president is just one of several candidates to hit the Golden State. Earlier this month, Mitt Romney also stopped by for a breakfast in Southern California, and Rick Perry attended six fundraisers across the state. (Track 2012 candidates’ events at Politico.)

“Whether you’re Barack Obama or one of the Republican primary candidates, it doesn’t hurt to talk to California voters, but what you’re most interested in is California donors,” said Dan Schnur, the director of USC’s Unruh Institute and a former GOP campaign operative.

Wealthy Californians have long made the state a hub for fundraising efforts. In 2008, Barack Obama raised $77.8 million in California, more than any other state.

But fund-raising prowess doesn’t necessarily translate into electoral influence. California’s 2012 primary has been delayed until June, meaning GOP primary voters will likely head to the polls too late to be decisive in choosing a Republican nominee, and California’s continuing status as a solid blue state renders it unlikely to prove decisive in the general election. Schnur said Californians’ wallets may speak louder than their ballots.

“California’s very relevant in terms of fundraising,” he said. “California’s very relevant in terms of the message the state sends to the rest of the country. But it’s tough to see the state mattering in how the GOP picks its nominee. And it’s difficult to see the state making a difference in the general election.”

That doesn’t mean courting voters isn’t important. A new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California puts the president’s approval rating among likely California voters below 50 percent for the first time since his election.

Dean Bonner, who conducted the poll for the PPIC, said even people who don’t approve of President Obama’s performance might cast a vote for him, but that the numbers illustrated an enthusiasm gap which could hurt fund-raising efforts.

“In a place like California, [the president] is still able to come here and raise money,” he said. “It might not be as much as it was in the past. People in 2008 were very happy to donate to the president, both donors who were big and small, because people showed a lot of enthusiasm.”

Bonner said major donors, including Democratic bundlers in Los Angeles and the Bay Area, are likely to stay involved in the Obama campaign. The remaining question is whether the millions of small donors who contributed to the 2008 election are still willing to say, “Yes, we can.”

Community gathers to spread word on Props 24 and 25


imageMembers of the South Los Angeles community gathered Saturday to be part of over 200,000 people throughout California to walk in neighborhoods to educate residents on Propositions 24 and 25. Prop. 24 would repeal corporate tax loopholes and restore over one billion dollars to the state budget. Prop. 25 would establish a simple majority for passing the state budget, rather than the two-thirds vote California currently has.

Both Propositions, if passed, would ultimately bring more money to the education budget of the state.

Listen to the audio story:

It was a Saturday morning four days before the midterm election and 40 people gathered on a cement patio outside a building on Florence Avenue in South Los Angeles. Community members, teachers and students gathered at the offices at the community organization SCOPE (Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education.) They have one common goal: to create change in California.

They hope change will come with Propositions 24 and 25. Two of the many Props on the midterm ballot. Prop. 24 would repeal corporate tax loopholes and restore over one billion dollars to the state budget. Prop. 25 would establish a simple majority for passing the state budget, rather than the two-thirds vote California currently has.

Andrew Carrillo gave up his Saturday to walk precincts. He’s a teacher at 32nd Street USC Magnet. He says he hasn’t canvassed since 1982 but these propositions pushed him to get the word out.

“They are important to me because our government is dysfunctional. This is a small small step, but an important step to make it a little more functional.”

Many of the students and teachers walking on Saturday had one agenda: get more money for education. It’s no secret California’s economy is in disarray. And a budget in the red affects schools.

Michael Husinger was one student self-motivated to walk on Saturday. He’s a 15 year old from Crenshaw High School. He says Props 24 and 25 give him the chance for a better education.

“Well one, it improves the schools, so better education for me, and also for my family like my little brother and sisters and everything.”

Husinger is in the Social Justice and Law Academy so politics is a big draw for him. He and his classmates were part of a larger group of over 200,000 people were working over the weekend to get out the vote. Teacher and activist David Rapkin believes there is power in numbers.

“The differences that usually keep us separate need to be broken down. There is nothing like students and teachers walking together to symbolize that and create a reality.”

If Props 24 and 25 pass, the state is bound to direct more money to schools.