UPDATE: When I first wrote this post I was upset about what I perceived to be the fiscal negligence of Huizar, from the costs of his personal problems to the city ad well as the reporting on the estimate for the streetcar project in the L.A. Times.
When I first claimed excitement for a Molina race, it was probably my desire for drama usurping what was actually good for my neighborhood. I have had the good fortune to meet many public servants in the last couple of years in Los Angeles and my brief exposure to Gloria has been polite and respectful. Unfortunately, it became clear in a downtown debate that I do not share Gloria's urban planning vision. In fact, it seems largely counter to everything in which I believe. No one enjoys tucking tale and admitting they were wrong in the face of a past of clear and overt support for her, but I am afraid I can no longer support Gloria Molina for city council. Despite his foibles, Huizar is a champion for the kind of smart urban planning in growth I would like to see implemented in the rest of our city.
On Thursday evening I attended and photographed a dinner hosted by the Democrats for Neighborhood Action and East Area Progressive Democrats. The honoree that evening was Jackie Goldberg, a truly inspiring public servant: she was the first opening gay member of the Los Angeles City Council. She was given a "superhero" award and used the occasion to comfort progressives in a time of political darkness, calling the new Republican majorities in the House and Senate idiots, by reminding us of the local successes progressives have recently made.
EAPD president Hans Johnson reminded us of one very important local issue looming on the horizon, a charter amendment to move local elections to the same cycle as Federal and State elections. In an era of low voter turnout, some fear that the current struggle to engage voters on local races will be all but lost in the expensive rancor of federal and state elections. Hans and others argue that the sheer volume of cash needed to compete for voter attention in even-year elections would stifle the voices of an electorate already at a disadvantage and threaten Los Angeles' matching funds program.
One of these voices is that of Gloria Molina, former Los Angeles County Supervisor, now candidate for Council District 14 in the City of Los Angeles. Ms. Molina made a brief appearance at the EAPD/DNA dinner. I had previously only known her through articles in the Los Angeles times, but when I met her, she was approachable and affable. I did not have the sense that I was speaking to a seasoned politician, but more like a member of my church. During my time interning at the Garcetti for Mayor office in Eagle Rock, I heard how people outside of my downtown Los Angeles neighborhood felt about sitting CD 14 council member, Jose Huizar. It became clear to me that Mr. Huizar was not giving the people outside of downtown the attention they deserved. This on top of the fact that Huizar is the center of disappearing gobs of cash (settlements and a misreported Streetcar estimate) and lets tax-payer money hang in the balance left me one of thousands looking for a viable alternative to run for the council seat.
Gloria Molina sent a shock through the political air in Los Angeles when she announced her candidacy. Tonight I attended the opening of Ms. Molina's Eagle Rock campaign headquarters. In a speech to a packed office, she reminded us of the uphill fight against entrenched politicians and deep-pocket developers. Undeterred by this, she encouraged tonight's group of grass roots supporters to volunteer and make positive and meaningful change through community action. While she does not have special interest money or the political backing of Huizar's "brother" Herb Wesson, Molina and her grass roots community will certainly give Huizar a run for his money.
(Photo Credit: Andre Eric Photography)