Talking about the needs of L.A.’s 15th District
Five candidates did not attend the Watts forum: realtor Rebecca Chambliss, businessman Frank Pereyda, small business owner and former 15th District Councilman Rudy Svorinich, and write-in candidates Emery Soos and Timothy Weaver.
To give residents an opportunity to learn even more about the candidates for the 15h District Council race, we sent an survey to each of the 15 people running. Following you will find their answers as well as other pertinent information. Some candidate did not respond, despite repeated calls and e-maiL.
Pereyda was the only candidate who did not attend the forum but did return the survey. We’re including the answers he provided in this story. Readers can go to our website, www.ourweekly.com and look for the Candidate Survey story to look at answers from the other candidates. In some cases, the responses are a combination of answers to the survey and comments made at the candidate forum.
Editor’s note: Check back between now and the election because we will update the website when other candidates submit their surveys.
What are the top five concerns of residents in Watts and specifically how will you address each of theses concerns?
Frank Pereyda: I feel that the biggest concern outside the usual fallout from our poor economy and the fact that we are not located on the west side of town is the fact that Watts is so far away from the rest of the district much in the same way that the harbor area is detached and ignored by downtown.
I feel that the council districts should be realigned to better serve residents. Much like our recently realigned congressional districts, the city could do the same and make some sense out of its boundaries.
I have worked with many of the schools and businesses in the area, and I see the struggles they face with foreign competition and our own city's mountain of regulations, fees and fines.
I feel I could make the biggest impact with our school district. I have a business plan that will save each and every school in the district thousands of dollars. The savings could go to school lunch programs, after-school activities, etc.
I have implemented this program with many schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District and other districts as well, and they are now reaping the benefits.
Our youth need to be better served, not the bloated bureaucrats now wasting our children's chance to learn and get ahead.
I am proponent of furthering the charter-school program as well as vouchers, where the money follows the child.
Justin Brimmer: I believe the top concerns of Watts/Willowbrook area addressed in my four-point plan: reinvest in our youth, recommit to job creation, restrengthen our communities, and reclaim city services.
1. Reinvestment in Our Youth: We must stop talking about our youth being the future of tomorrow, and start making them a priority today.
a. Increase apprenticeship programs, where youth can learn from skilled mentors in their chosen field, i.e. Business owners, steel workers, artists, etc.
b. Summer Youth Jobs, i.e. Expansion through securing private investment
c. Arts and Athletics
i. Promote schools with local plays, talent shows, art shows, public art, district wide football, baseball, soccer, track leagues; also building skate parks.
d. Expand training and tutoring programs.
e. Provide mentorship and Parenting Classes Seminars
f. Youth Professional/Youth Chamber of Commerce
g. Scholarships for college bound youth
2. Recommit to Job Creation: I believe we should give a job to a 16 year old and you give a career to the head of a household, and this is how I have devised a pathway out of poverty.
a. Job Preparation Plan
i. Initiate legislation in the city that will Ban the Box for city jobs.
ii. Resume Workshops, create resumes, post resumes
iii. Interview Workshops
iv. Resource/Career Fairs
v. Suit & Professional Clothes Donation Drives
vi. Establish a Re-entry/ probation commission
b. Job/ Career Creation Plan
i. Fight for bigger and better project labor agreements, i.e. Farmer’s Field, New Hotels
ii. Promote and Develop legislation that increases tourism; i.e. USS Iowa, Watts Tower, Banning Museum
iii. Develop a 15th District Marketing Plan
iv. Digitalize all businesses in the District (placing them on the web)
c. Business and Entrepreneurship Plan
i. Provide Micro-Business Loans in the amounts of $250-$2500 for residents in our District.
ii. Business Plans Assistance for new ideas (Empower Chambers)
iii. Inspire residents to pursue business ideas and provide resources and support
3. Restrengthen Our Communities: Block by block, street by street, neighborhood by neighborhood, we must be able to guarantee an equal, fair, and safe quality of life for ALL residents.
i. Emergency Preparedness
ii. Community Policing, i.e. Neighborhood Watches
b. Secure 10K new computers for our district and triple the computing power at each library.
c. Church & Non-Profit Empowerment
i. Increase Church participation in constituent services and helping residents.
ii. Prayer Gatherings
iii. Establish a district-wide Church/Minister Council
d. Improve Quality of Life
i. Green Space & Pocket Parks
ii. Removal of damaging trees
iii. Sidewalk repair solutions
iv. District wide Clean Ups
v. Zero tolerance for dirty/trashy alleys
4. Reclaim City Services: If the City does not reduce our taxes, fees, or fines, then they do not have the right to decrease our City services.
a. Create and find efficiencies among City Departments. Suspend all departmental printing for one year to save our district upward $10 million.
b. Ensure City Departments dealing directly with residents, less top heavy with managers and put more workers on the frontline providing solutions to residents.
c. Increase customer services among departments
d. Increase service delivery through public and residential partnerships
e. Fight to secure Federal funding for local projects, such as the Watts Star Theater and Watts Towers.
f. Find new stream of revenue, without increasing existing fees, fines, and taxes
Pat McOsker: It’s clear from my conversations with Watts residents that jobs and the economy is the top concern. Number two is crime three is education, afterschool programs and recreation centers; four is housing; and is restoring city services and balancing the city’s budget.
Jobs and the economy—this is also my top priority. As soon as I am elected, I will work to advance business opportunities and create good paying jobs with healthcare and better working conditions for workers, and help to make Los Angeles more business friendly. I have released a detailed economic development plan to help L.A. businesses create jobs. Besides boosting local projects like the San Pedro and Wilmington waterfronts, I will advocate for permit streamlining and consolidation of review for new businesses and projects.
I will fight to keep DWP rates for water and power reasonable for business, so that the jobs and taxes generated can stay here in Los Angeles. I will support the development of renewable resources, and seek to have the jobs created by these efforts remain within the Los Angeles basin.
I support and will fight for local hire and local purchasing programs at the port, airports and DWP–so that the nearly $1 billion of purchasing that they do each year stays in our economy.
Finally, I will work to find operators for sit-down restaurants in Watts as I believe that will significantly enhance the community and help create good jobs.
Crime—With the recent city budget cuts, there are 500 fewer LAPD officers on the streets each day. I’m committed to restoring these officers and the money cut by helping businesses succeed and increasing our tax base. Additionally, I support the idea of the Housing Authority of the City of LA partnering with LAPD to fund 10 full-time officers to work solely within the Jordan Downs and Nickerson Gardens housing projects.
I’ve already fought at City Hall to restore public safety services cut in the budget. As the president of United Firefighters of Los Angeles City Local 112, I’ve opposed the city’s plan to close 22 fire companies and four ambulances throughout Los Angeles. I will keep up the pressure if elected to the City Council.
Education, afterschool programs and recreation centers—When I go to the Watts Gang Task Force, I frequently hear complaints about funding our recreation centers and parks so that LA’s kids have a safe place to play afterschool. I am committed to prioritizing this in LA’s budget because I agree that fully staffed recreation centers are very important in our neighborhoods. I will also work to expand LA’s BEST and other afterschool, job training and mentorship programs.
As president of the LA Firefighters, I have supported programs that connect L.A.’s youth to jobs and opportunity. This includes the Fire Department’s Explorer Program at Harbor College, which steers young men and women toward careers with the LAFD. I was also recently honored by the Banning High School Fire Academy in Wilmington for supporting a program credited with turning around the lives of at-risk youths through disciplined training in fire service procedures.
Housing—I have a lot of concern about residents being displaced during the redevelopment of Jordan Downs. Current residents must be moved to replacement units and then be welcomed back once the new units are ready. I also will ensure that residents are included in all decisions and will be kept updated about the progress of the redevelopment.
5. City services—The City of LA must provide more than just police and fire services. The city must fill potholes, provide sanitation services, trim trees and a whole lot more. To provide the valuable city services our residents need, we must operate more efficiently and reduce waste to balance our budget.
First, the city must expand its tax base by promoting business, jobs and economic growth. If the city eliminates unnecessary obstacles that stop entrepreneurs, and helps businesses create jobs, this makes L.A. competitive with surrounding cities, and tax base can grow.
Second, Los Angeles has hundreds of millions of dollars in uncollected bills. For example, LAPD doesn’t collect what it is owed from false alarm fees. The city must collect on its debts to provide needed revenue to pay for important public services.
Third, city departments purchase hundreds of millions of dollars in goods every year. These departments need to reform their purchasing practices to make sure they are supporting city businesses and not donating sales tax revenue to other cities or states.
Jayme Wilson: Jobs, education, housing, crime, environment.
I will advocate deferring the cost of a business license. Opening a new business is financially daunting, and we must do all we can on our end to reduce or ease any city- imposed financial barriers.
We must expedite the permit process, without sacrificing the environmental reviews process, so businesses can open sooner.
We should provide the same Department of Water and Power discounts that are available to those companies only within enterprise zones to all businesses.
We must reform the business tax process. Presently, the City of Los Angeles has one of the highest business taxes in the southland, thus driving new and existing business to surrounding cities or out of the area altogether.
Housing—I will work with the city and private developers to bring more affordable housing to the community. We need family housing, not cheap apartments.
The City of Los Angeles has one of the lowest ratios of open space per capita in the nation. With new housing, we must integrate neighborhood parks and play areas for kids and more local libraries. We have the resources to accomplish this.
Education—One of the biggest problems facing school-aged children in this community is safety going to and from school. I will work with parents, residents, community leaders, and local law enforcement to make certain our children have a safe and secure learning environment.
Furthermore, since I was one of the founders of the Port of Los Angeles Charter High School, I understand the difference that afterschool programs and access to libraries can make to a young person’s life. I believe we should provide funds for libraries so they can be kept open longer.
Young scholars should have more quantity and better-quality of afterschool programs to choose from.
Crime—I will work with the neighborhood council, parents, community leaders and local law enforcement to ensure we have youth activates and afterschool programs to keep children out of gangs and away from drugs. I will also work with law enforcement to improve response times.
Most importantly, we must focus on quality of life and neighborhood concerns. I subscribe to the “broken windows” concept. If we adequately address quality-of-life issues, I believe we will be spending less money on fighting crime and contending with other social problems.
Environmental—The 105 freeway splits through your community and did not generate the economic growth and benefits the community deserves. The community deserves the services that are available in other communities such as supermarkets with fresh and affordable vegetables, local green jobs, clean and safe streets and sidewalks.
Why are you the best person to represent the Watts/Willowbrook area?
McOsker: I know Watts. I was assigned to old Fire Station 64 in Watts as a rookie firefighter and later returned to Watts Fire Station 65 when I was promoted to the rank of engineer.
I’m running for City Council to serve the communities that I have protected as a LAFD firefighter for the last 31 years and to continue advocating for public safety, fire protection and emergency medical services.
Our true emergency right now is our jobs crisis. As a firefighter, I’ve been trained to go right in and solve the problem—that’s why I’ve released a detailed plan to improve our economy.
What Watts needs is a councilmember who can get at least eight votes on the city council.
As the president of the United Firefighters of Los Angeles, I have unique influence at City Hall that would benefit CD 15. As a labor leader, I have a political constituency with labor unions that has become a powerful voice on city issues.
Watts needs more than just one vote. With my labor constituency, I can rally a coalition for the 8 votes needed to get things done on the City Council.
Additionally, I have real experience in City Hall and have negotiated five contracts with city officials. I know where the other council members like to go for breakfast. I know the main players. They are familiar faces and they listen to me. I know I can influence the council and help set the agenda, because I already have as the president of L.A. Firefighters.
Brimmer: I believe with the right leadership and vision, Watts will become the 21st Century version of the Harlem Renaissance. I declare an emergence of art, culture, innovation, and entrepreneurship. We cannot wait for some of these other candidates to hold a town hall meeting or send out surveys to maybe understand the needs and dreams of Watts. I will be able to set in place a vision that will allow us to accomplish and achieve our destiny on DAY 1. We have waited for far too long to have our destiny delayed another second or even another election. November 8th is our opportunity to vote in a bold vision.
I am the only candidate with roots in Watts that are deeper than a few endorsements and a campaign office. I was educated in the Watts/ Willowbrook area at King Drew Medical Magnet High School. I graduated from King Drew with more than 500 hours of community service to the Watts/ Willowbrook community.
My grandfather has lived in Watts for more than 53 years, and his living room has become my campaign office. My uncle is a barber in the community; my aunt is a parole agent for the housing developments; and my mother is the project manager for the CRA-LA Watts Project area. I have worked on 103rd and Compton Ave in the district office, and when I was promoted to legislative and policy deputy for Councilwoman Janice Hahn, I caught the 446 line or the blue line to City Hall every day.
In addition to family living and working in Watts, I will remain connected by ensuring the residents have my personal cell phone and staff my Watts District office with local residents.
Joe Buscaino: My parents immigrated from Italy, and the instilled in me the concept of giving back. I’ve been a member of the LAPD for 15 years, and a senior lead offers in the Harbor area. I founded a teen advisory board that has become a model. And public safety is near and dear to my heart.
We need to have economic justice throughout the district and city services justice throughout the district. We need to bring in jobs, eliminate blight and make sure that quality-of-life issues such illegal vending and dumping of trash like sofas are address. I know we can do better.
I’ll be an independent, grassroots voice for the district.
Warren Furutani: I’m no stranger to Watts. I represented the community on the Los Angeles Unified School District for eight years and on the Los Angeles Community College District Board.
I have a history of working in the community, which is why I was endorsed by the California Democratic Party. I’m the only candidate that has a headquarters sin Watts. I walk the talk, that’s why I’m in Watts, to make sure Watts gets its fair share and then some.
M. Candice Graham: I’ve been working with you and everybody in the community over the last 10 years, I’ve discovered a way to create jobs, to bring jobs and resources to Watts. We’re relying on a political system that is antiquated. We need to bring god back into the schools and back into our lives. I’m not going to put a Band-Aid on the situation and let it fester.
Gordon Teuber: You need a council person who can attract new capital to the 15th District and get projects going such as Lanzit and rebuilding Jordan Downs, Nickerson Gardens and Imperial Courts. You need someone who can work to break the cycle of violence in the community. I also support more charter and private schools in the district. I’m not funded by special interests, so I’m beholden to no one but you.
McOsker: . . . I understand that you need to put resources where they are needed most. You need to put people back to work, and I will focus on that—fight for good paying, middle class jobs. Because poverty leads to crime and drug abuse.
Ten of the 15 candidates trying to win the right to fill the unexpired term of former L.A.
Councilwoman Janice Hahn turned out for a candidate forum in Watts Saturday, and the common themes they stressed were that the 15th District needs to receive its fair share of funding and resources to address concerns such as public safety, housing, and unemployment.
First, thank you to Our Weekly and to Stevie Wonder’s KJLH FrontPage. Together, they supported and promoted last weekend’s community gathering to ‘Craft A Black Political Agenda for California,’ held at the Vision Theater in Leimert Park and hosted by the California Black Think Tank.
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Four candidates are running for the positions, including incumbents Caroline Hicks, William Shaw and Rock Glaser, who is currently an alternate member. David Orso, who is a member of the Antelope Valley Trucker Organization, is also running. He is, in fact, a Littlerock native who has been asked to run for the Town Council seat by members of the Littlerock Town Council.
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Papers must be returned to the city clerk’s office by March 2.
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