THE EASTSIDER - On October 5, the first serious Candidates Forum took place in Eagle Rock, at the Women’s 20th Century Club, across the street from Columbo’s Italian Steakhouse on Colorado Blvd.
Interestingly, the event was hosted by a new group, the Election Group, created by a long-time resident named Deanna Deacon. Even more interesting, they got 9 of the 11 or so candidates to actually show up!
There were only two major candidates who did not show up - Kevin De Leon and Miguel Santiago. Those attending were Wendy Carrillo, Ysabel Jurado, Eduardo Vargas, Samir Bitar, Dr Nadine M Diaz, Genny Guerrero, Teresa Y Hillery, and Nick Pacheco.
Unfortunately, Nick came late and was not allowed to participate. I must admit that for a new group, the Election Group managed to get somewhere between 70 and 80 people to show up on a Thursday night. Not bad at all.
There were 4 questions, and here they are:
1) How will you support small businesses in the district, which are vital to local economic health but face challenges like crime, Metro projects, permitting costs, etc.?
2) It is no secret that public trust in government remains low, and our District 14 has had a share of public scrutiny regarding how leaders in this position have operated unprofessionally or criminally. The question concerns your character and moral compass as a city leader, a role model to today's youth, and a public servant. It's a two-fold question. Please share how YOU will guarantee honest engagement and transparency with ALL constituents. And how will you ensure YOU uphold the highest professional character and demonstrate ethical, transparent leadership?
3) Homeless encampments have spread into public areas like sidewalks and parks. Homelessness remains a critical issue in LA. How would you balance solutions with long-term programs that address root causes like mental health and addiction? CD14 neighborhoods contain many older and multi-family housing complexes. Costs for these landlords are increasing.
4) What will you do as a council member to ensure local mom-and-pop landlords can remain in business, continue to provide much-needed rental opportunities and safeguard the small real estate investment as a ladder up for mobility for the middle class?
I won’t go into the answers of each of the candidates’ answers, since it would make this article way too long. Personally, I think the two most impressive candidates were Ysabel Jurado and Wendy Carrillo. Of course, they both have the greatest familiarity in being political candidates.
For me, the biggest takeaway from the evening was the fact that every single candidate agreed that the Number One problem in LA City and CD14 is homelessness! Right on, it clearly is. For those who aren’t so sure, check out this NBC reporting on the 9% increase from 2022.
“2023 Homeless Count shows a 9% rise in people experiencing homelessness in LA County
The number of people experiencing homeless has increased over the past year, according to an annual report from the Los Angeles Housing Services Authority that offers more insight into one of the region's most vexing problems.
The data show a 9% increase in the county and a 10% increase in the city from 2022.
“The homeless count results tell us what we already know — that we have a crisis on our streets, and it’s getting worse,” says Chief Executive Officer of the LAHSA Dr. Va Lecia Adams Kellum.
The Money Candidates
It is clear that homelessness is the 800-pound gorilla in Los Angeles, and has been for a long time.
I mention this because these are the two politicians who already have the most money in their pockets - De Leon, with his roughly $4 million dollars in ‘discretionary funds’ not including what he just got after announcing on September 20th , and Santiago, who was the first corporate Dem who announced and got the most money from the usual suspects. And then there’s Carrillo
As Los Angeles Magazine recently reported:
“De León has the cash to be competitive, but others have more money. State Assemblyman Miguel Santiago pulled in $118,000 during the quarter and has $361,000, trailing only Nazarian on the council tote board. Another state Assembly member, Wendy Carrillo, stands at $181,000 to date. Both also have impressive lists of endorsements, as well as valuable campaign experience.
As in District 10, they are not the only ones who will have the funds to connect with voters. Ysabel Jurado, who boasts the endorsement of multiple left-leaning political figures and groups, has raised $102,000. Teresa Hillery has $74,000, though the total includes a $40,000 loan.
Already candidates for the seat have raised a collective $882,000. In the coming months, this figure will soar.”
Looks like this is going to be one heck of a race. And welcome to another voice as the Election Group weighs in.
(Tony Butka is an Eastside community activist, who has served on a neighborhood council, has a background in government and is a contributor to CityWatch.)