9th District Candidate Closeup: David Roberts

imagePhoto provided by David Roberts campaign.

The Ninth Council District in South Los Angeles is up for grabs and supporters, ranging from the local community to the Los Angeles Times, claim former economic developer David Roberts is the man for the job.

“The musical chairs from Sacramento to city hall has changed the culture here for the worst,” said Roberts. “It’s very disturbing for someone who has worked in government. It sounds corny, but I’m doing it for the right reasons. I’m running [in order to] improve the quality of life here in South L.A.”

For years, Roberts watched local officials attempt to satisfy the needs of the residents living in South LA. However, the finalization of the redistricting of the Ninth was the last straw, ultimately motivating him to run.

Last year, the Los Angeles Redistricting Commission approved the removal of portions of Downtown L.A. from the Nint District, including the financial district, Little Tokyo and the Civic Center.

“They created a poverty challenged district,” said Roberts. “It was pretty obvious early on that deals had been cut and there were conflicts of interest. I don’t think we will ever recover from that. South L.A. was totally dismantled and the culture was stripped away.”

Roberts added that local officials need to bring more resources to the community and fight for those residents because “it is imperative that somebody is there to fight for them. I’m not afraid to.”

imagePhoto provided by David Roberts campaign.

Roberts was born and raised in Southern California. After graduating from high school, he went on to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science with a minor in Business Administration from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Roberts eventually went on to work as the Economic Development Director for Council members Bernard C. Parks and Mark Ridley-Thomas.

Roberts also serves on a number of local boards including Figueroa Corridor Partnership, Friends of Expo Center and the South LA Initiatives Working Group. Roberts hopes that his wealth of experience exhibits his potential to revitalize the Ninth District better than his opponents.

“Government can be a positive impact on people’s lives. I want to restore some credibility and confidence in city hall,” said Roberts.

His supporters recognize and understand his efforts. The Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative honored Roberts with the Outstanding City Partner Award for his expertise and passion for the community. Additionally, in a recently released campaign video, supporters describe Roberts as a man of integrity and passion.

“My support is from inside this district. [I can do this] because these folks are pushing me along and encouraging me,” said Roberts in a recently released campaign video.

Critics might pin Roberts as just another politician with conflicts of interest. Most recently, Roberts worked as the Associate Director of Local Government Affairs at the University of Southern California.

South L.A. residents could be turned off by Roberts’ ties to USC. Some residents are unhappy with USC’s Master Plan, a development project creating mixed-use spaces, including student housing, with the potential of displacing current residents.

“When I went over to USC, I was told I could not work on that plan. I have not done any work on behalf of the university for that plan. There is no contradiction with me and the university,” said Roberts.

Roberts listed the unemployment rate, education system, sidewalk repairs and average household income as some of the district’s most pressing challenges. He plans to redevelop South L.A., expand educational opportunities, ensure safer streets and create job opportunities, which he is already doing by hiring local adults to canvass neighborhoods on his behalf.

“They’re going out and registering some of their friends and family members to vote. It’s a real grassroots level,” said Roberts. “For some of these kids, it’s the first time they’ve had a real job or a real paycheck. It feels so good to be involved in that.”

OPINION: Making public safety a priority

imageBy Althea Rae Shaw (left), Candidate for Los Angeles City Council District 10

“The man who loves other countries as much as his own, stands on a level with the man who loves other women as much as he loves his own wife.” – Theodore Roosevelt

In Los Angeles, public safety should be priority, but it’s not. Did you know that the City of Los Angeles is a “sanctuary city”? Sanctuary cities are commonly defined as those that restrict law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration laws. Basically, a sanctuary city is a pathway to lawlessness.

On March 8, 2011, we have the power to change the face of the Los Angeles City Council. There are seven city council seats opened. We can vote out all incumbents who support sanctuary cities and vote in me and other like-minded candidates who support public safety.

According to Judge Susan Bolton, a federal judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, sanctuary cities are actually against the law. Did you know that? However, many elected officials are silent regarding this and local media is not known for covering this. So, we must vote to fix this.

When order goes out the window, there goes the neighborhood. When billions of dollars are spent on funding sanctuary cities, there goes the budget. When a large number of people enter America illegally and law enforcement leaders turn a blind eye, there goes justice.

With our vote in hand, we must make our representatives focus on public safety. Look around the world, isn’t it time to make public safety priority in America? If not now, when? Our borders are not secure and many of our cities are a safe haven for foreigners living in America illegally. This is not how we win the future.

If we begin to take local elections just as serious as we take presidential elections and get a high voter turnout, good things will happen locally. When public safety is priority and the American people are united, good things will happen. Property value will go up and crime will go out. Companies will return to investing in America and small businesses will be able to operate in Los Angeles. This is the beginning to winning the future.

Let’s not just imagine a life where public safety is a priority; let’s make it a reality. You can vote by mail starting on February 7, 2011, or you can go to your local polling place and vote on March 8, 2011!

For more information about Althea Rae Shaw, visit her website at altheashaw.com.