By Aaron Blevins, 1/17/2013
With Councilman Eric Garcetti termed out and seeking the mayor’s office, Los Angeles City Council District 13 will have new leadership for the first time in 12 years, and a host of candidates are vying for the position.
At least 12 candidates have entered the race, and today, Park Labrea News and Beverly Press will profile four. Interviews with the remaining candidates will be published in future editions of the newspaper.
Post, 34, is a deputy attorney with the California Department of Justice who is running for political office for the first time. However, he is no stranger to city hall, having worked with LA’s BEST afterschool program under former mayor James Hahn.
He said his experience working with LA’s BEST helped him see the impact of such programs on under-served communities. Post said he recognized how critical those programs can be, and is now hoping to do more.
“It became even more, when I started running, than just helping the youth. It became about helping anybody who’s living in an underserved area,” he said, adding that under-served communities seem to be forgotten. “I want to be a voice for the underserved communities so we can all get equal treatment.”
Post said his legal background should help his efforts, if elected. He has worked in federal courts and with Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
“As a lawmaker, a legal background is critical. I think that’s one of the things that sets me apart from my opponents,” Post said, referencing local political actions that wind up in court, such as the proposed medical marijuana ordinance. “As an attorney, you look at those things.”
The Missouri native said his priorities in office would be public safety, environmental issues, such as the L.A. River revitalization; renewable energy; and bike infrastructure. The Echo Park resident’s endorsements include District Attorney Jackie Lacey, state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and actor and environmentalist Ed Begley Jr.
O’Farrell, 52, spent the last 10 years working on behalf of Garcetti. For the councilman, he has served as field deputy, deputy director, district director and senior advisor.
An Oklahoma City native, O’Farrell has lived in the district for 31 years, and has been active in the Glassell Park and Hollywood communities. He said he wants to put his knowledge of the district to greater use.
“I know where we’ve been,” O’Farrell said. “I know our struggles, and I know our potential more than anyone.”
He wants to continue working on various projects he’s been involved with over the last few years, such as streetscaping improvements in the district and management and maintenance of the L.A. River. One of O’Farrell’s biggest priorities, though, is solving the city’s budget problems.
“If we don’t figure that out, then we’re teetering into insolvency,” he added. “I’m going to make sure that does not happen.”
To do so, the city should reform the way it deals with small businesses, O’Farrell said. He said there are 322,000 small business in L.A., yet city hall burdens these businesses with red tape. City hall needs to simplify the processes for obtaining permits to open, improve and expand a business, O’Farrell said.
He said his chief priority is to improve the quality of life in the district by improving the look and feel of the neighborhood, enhancing public safety, increasing economic development, improving the environment and rectifying the city budget, which “affects everything.”
The first-time candidate has been endorsed by City Councilman Tom LaBonge, 4th District, the Citizens Committee to Save Elysian Park and Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada-Flintridge).
Mack, 55, is the Los Angeles Fire Department’s assistant chief for its south division. He has worked for the department for 33 years, but his Council District 13 bid is the first time that he’s run for political office.
“I decided that there are things that I need to do to continue serving this city — things that I can do for my council district to ensure that they get the services that they need and to be represented by the city council,” Mack said.
He said the biggest issue facing the city is economic growth, for without it, the city will have trouble bringing in revenue, providing essential services and improving residents’ quality of life.
“We have to grow our economy by bringing in the businesses that are going to create the jobs in our community,” Mack said. “Obviously, there are ways to go out and seek businesses that would be inclined to come to our district.”
He, too, would like to change the bureaucracy-laden way the city handles new businesses and the permitting process. Mack also denounced the gross receipts tax, saying that he would kill the tax over the long-term.
Furthermore, he wants to improve public safety, ensure educational opportunities, maintain the district’s streets and retain resident access to parks, libraries and recreational opportunities.
Mack has secured endorsements from L.A. County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, 5th District, and City Councilman Bernard Parks, 8th District.
Schaefer, 74, served on the San Diego City Council from 1965 to 1971, and he has run for Los Angeles City Council twice — once in the 1990s and against LaBonge in 2001. He is a retired attorney who had served as San Diego’s city prosecutor.
“I’m running again because the city’s on the verge of bankruptcy,” Schaefer said.
He said it is imperative that the city does what it can to save the entertainment industry, including matching or exceeding “enterprise packages” that other states offer to production companies when trying to lure the industry. Schaeffer said many people in his district depend on the entertainment industry for work.
“I think I’m an excellent person, per my background and experience, to go to battle for the TV and film industry,” he added.
Schaefer said the council needs “some new blood” to manage the issues the city is facing. He said that given the state of the city, his fellow candidates should not be proud to have city hall experience.
“The city’s in trouble, and they’re part of the problem,” Schaefer said. “I want to be a part of the solution. They should not brag about their experience in city hall. That is not a plus.”
He also hopes to protect the district’s “fine” hospitals by advocating for growth and expansion, improve public safety by securing funding and doing more police officer recruiting, reduce the cost of parking tickets if paid early and allow motorists to park at broken meters.
If elected, Schaefer said he would give 20 percent of his $179,000 salary back to the city, as well as half of his $1.6 million office budget.
He said his endorsements include Cousin It and The Munchkins from the “Wizard of Oz”, and he hopes to garner entertainment industry votes.
“Politics has to be entertaining,” Schaefer added. “We are Hollywood, and we need to have people who know Hollywood working with the city councilman.”
The city’s Primary Nominating Election will be held on March 5, with the General Municipal Election following on May 21.