Council District 9 candidates are making their rounds of emails and fundraising appeals for the coveted seat that will be vacated by Councilwoman Jan Perry in 2013. The options of candidates are quite an interesting slate for consideration because they are a representation of government, grassroots, and small business. Although the baiting of supporters are early in the game, CD 9 candidates should know that winning over their South LA community will require a vision, plan, and follow through on unfinished business.
Koyaki Kwa Jitahidi of MAâ€™AT Institute for Community Change thinks the 2013 race is intrinsically about educating the South LA community, â€œThe 9th Council District race in 2013 will serve as a test of the political sophistication of poor and working-class Black and Latino communities, respectively. Will African Americans support an African American candidate exclusively out of racial solidarity? Will Latinos, who are now the majority of voters in the District, support a Latino simply because they feel itâ€™s their time?â€
Amidst synergy in South LA to improve voter education and turnout from MAâ€™AT Institute, South LA Power Coalition, and other community organizing groups, the word on the street is CD 9 stakeholders have already developed decision-making criteria that will influence their candidate selection. These criteria are history in the community, community activism track record, public safety, unemployment, infrastructure improvement, and economic development. Although these criteria may seem common for any part of the city, itâ€™s not for South LA where political power and influence have been met by a thick glass ceiling.
Demonstrated commitment to improving the lives of working class African Americans and Latinos who have seen years of economic imbalance between uptown CD 9, downtown Los Angeles, and downtown CD 9, South LA, will be an economic revelation test. With LA Live and USC as centerpieces of financial interest, South LA doesnâ€™t want to get caught in the trickle down hype and wait your turn mess that has impeded decades of accelerated financial and job growth. They are looking for a leader who can simultaneously bridge downtown focus with new South LA developments without catering to simply put -money and power.
â€œThis is crucial considering the need for Black and Latino residents in the area to counterbalance the powerful interests of the University of Southern California and corporations like AEG,â€ says Jithadi.
But thatâ€™s not all. Public works infrastructure improvements are high priority needs. In a climate of declining city resources, candidates must have an attainable idea to repair the oldest aging infrastructure system that has surpassed its useful life.
Jitahidi sums up with a call to careful deliberation, â€œAt a time when the City is struggling with annual budget shortfalls and cuts in services, voters cannot afford to vote for someone purely based upon endorsements, money, and good rhetoric. The people of the 9th deserve a councilmember who will fight for them and their interests.â€
For CD 9 candidates, South LA is unfinished business whether itâ€™s the recent South LA 5-Year Strategic Plan, failed Rebuild LA after the riots, disproportioned community and economic development, or ongoing injustices. The community knows start and stop politics too well and want a leader with a strategic direction to make unfinished business complete.