It’s been an honor to serve; see you on the Boulevard

| December 2, 2020 | 0 Comments


Of all the columns I have sent to this paper over the years, this one is by far the most difficult to write — because this one will be my last as your Councilmember.

It has been an honor to work with the neighborhoods of Windsor Square, Hancock Park, and Greater Wilshire, as well as all the small businesses along Larchmont Boulevard, and when I look back at the last five years, I’m proud of all that we’ve accomplished together.

Five years ago, our city government had no repair plan for our city’s concrete streets, and aside from an asphalt patch here and there, was going to let them continue to disintegrate. Communities like this one had been told for years that concrete street repair was too expensive, and neighborhoods which had them were left in the lurch.

But we didn’t accept this answer, and we found a better way. I commissioned my own crews to prove that completely repairing concrete streets was not only cost effective, but saved the city money in the long term from patch work repairs and possible lawsuits. Today, concrete streets are being repaired and replaced across Los Angeles under a new concrete streets repair plan that has dedicated crews and funding streams to get the job done.

Five years ago, the consensus logic said that campaign finance reform had no chance at success in City Hall. I went ahead and fought for it anyway — re-introducing my developer dollar ban three times before gaining traction, and then pushing with every tool I had to pass it into law. I refused developer donations since my first day on the campaign trail to prove it could be done, and to lay the groundwork for a new kind of politics in Los Angeles. I became the only Councilmember, currently or in history, to make public any meetings with developers and all discretionary spending. I organized with advocacy groups, spoke publicly about the need for reform, and gathered support from neighborhood groups and everyday Angelenos.

The campaign finance bill that we were told was a pipe dream is now law, and only the beginning of what I hope will be a wave of reform, oversight and  transparency measures in City Hall.

There is so much more to reflect on — new tree care policies, homeless housing centers, and support for our local businesses — but nostalgia is not what drove me to write this piece. In fact, just the opposite.

Five years ago, not a lot of people believed I could deliver on the things I campaigned on. I was a fresh face, and people were skeptical on whether I really would fix our concrete streets, build homeless housing, or tackle corruption. But this community — the readers of this newspaper — gave me a chance to work with them and prove what we are capable of when we work together. I ask you to give Nithya Raman that same chance.

You believing in me, and working with me in good faith, is what made so many of our neighborhood achievements possible. Councilwoman-elect Raman will need that same good faith. She is a fresh face, much like I was in 2015, and someone who has put forth a lot of big ideas for our district and our city. They are ambitious, but they are possible when we work together. That is what we need right now — not just for our new Councilmember to be successful, but for all of our communities to thrive.

Homelessness is continuing to rise. The COVID-19 pandemic rages on. The local economy remains on dwindling life support. Now is not the time to slow down or to let ego or distrust stymie a political newcomer. Now is the time to put our best foot forward, to extend an open hand (or elbow bump), and get to work.

It has been a tremendous honor to work with you all on building a better community and a healthier city. The work continues, and I wish all of you, and our new Councilmember, the best of luck.

See you on the Boulevard.

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