Ballot Box: Scenes from the Atwater Village candidate forum

Candidates are schooled in the ground rules before the forum began at Atwater Avenue Elementary.

At least 150 people attended Wednesday night’s Council District 13 candidate forum in Atwater Village to meet and hear nine of the dozen contenders. There was a lot of  meeting-and-greeting going on before the candidates took to the  auditorium stage at  Atwater Avenue Elementary to respond to questions submitted in advance, with topics ranging from citywide issues to neighborhood concerns, such as how  to improve Fletcher Drive and increase safety at Chevy Chase Park.   The Eastsider will report on how the candidates responded to some of those topics in future stories in preparation for the March 5 election.

Two of the candidates at the forum, organized by the Atwater Village Chamber of Commerce,  included neighborhood residents Roberto Negrete, a state senate aide who grew up in Atwater, and Los Angeles Fire Department executive Emile Mack. Of course, the other candidates were not shy about discussing their Atwater connections:  Echo Park resident Josh Post said he announced his candidacy to friends in Atwater; Matt Szabo recommended the hot peppers at the Atwater Village Farmers’ Market;  Sam Kbushyan talked about bike riding in Atwater; and Jose Sigala spoke about visits to Fosters Freeze with his twin daughters.

Click on the link below for more photos and details of last night’s forum.

Atwater Village native and candidate Robert Negrete meets fellow residents.

Candidate John Choi (left), a former Public Works commissioner,  in a pre-forum discussion.

In the race for most attractive “time-out” – or in this case “FIN”  – signs,  the handmade signage at the Atwater Village forum got extra points for a creative, DIY flair. The glittery red numbers and letters were pasted on squares of white board with handles made from popsicle sticks.

Candidate and former Echo Park neighborhood council President Jose Sigala  reaching out to forum audience members.

Moderator Alex Bruno (left) chats with candidate Sam Kbushyan of East Hollywood.

Voter-in-training attends the forum.

Candidate Josh Post spending time with forum participants.

Candidate Matt Szabo (right)  in a pre-forum discussion.

How do you stand out from the pack?   Candidate John Choi’s choice in casual, tan and white footwear certainly set him apart from the black and brown loafers and dress shoes worn by the other candidates.  One person in the audience said they looked like Earth shoes.

Want to hear more from the candidates? The  Echo Park Improvement Assn.  is hosting a forum on Thursday, Feb. 7 for candidates in Council District 1 and Council District. 13  

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  1. Where’s that link to the details on last night’s forum?

  2. Not one single mention or photo of the only candidate in attendance that actually served Atwater Village for 10 of the last 11 years, Mitch O’Farrell. He’s the only one that actually worked on crime and safety issues related to Chevy Chase park; got the landscaped median and Atwater-landmark sign on Glendale Blvd.; helped local small businesses like Links n Hops open; convinced Well Fargo Bank to continue the use of it’s property for the Atwater Village farmer’s market; got badly damaged sidewalks fixed in north Atwater; helped get the landscaped median, which improved public-safety, at Valley Brink/Dover/Glen Feliz intersection; Stopped the City of Glendale from closing off Chevy Chase Dr. at the train track; and acquired $3 million dollars to fund the pedestrian bridge that will be built at the LA River’s Red Car Park area. Those things might be important to the families and small businesses in Atwater Village, and your readers, too. “Click on the link below for more photos and details of last night’s forum”; link no where to be found.
    But, hey, at least you guys got a nice photo of John Choi’s shoes.

    • mike here in atwater you step up a notch,maybe hes not worthy of all the accolades you give him.

      • Rueben, I don’t even understand what you’re trying to say. I’m not giving him accolades I’m merely pointing out facts. Why are you so spiteful? What’s eating you? Can you be honest with yourself, before you blast-out other people in a public forum? I know who you are, bro. You were at the forum last night sitting in the back row. You don’t see me blasting out your full name in public forum! I’m not going to say mean things to you. I’m moving on. Let it go, bro. I’m done. Enough!

        • you mean theres two of us i thought i was at the movies watching zero dark thirty. you should go to the movies and quit following mitches every step.

          • Mitch never initiated work or improvement in the district. As a field deputy all he did was follow orders, he’s good gopher, but not a good decision maker, just ask Julie Wong in Garcetti’s office. Oh and on that note, Ask yourself why his former boss Garcetti is not Endorsing him if he did a magnificent job….ask around people.

          • I need a secret decoder ring to decipher your comments.

      • It’s called a candidate forum, open to the public, people are invited, you know? I’m not the one that follows people to their houses like a creepy stalker.

        • Mike, keep it cool, Stop bashing on Sigala!

          • @ Juan Penas: Weren’t you the one that on an earlier post called Jose Sigala a “bully” and referred to him as “bad news”? Now, it’s “Stop bashing on Sigala!”? Dude, what happened? Did you ever attend a Greater Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council meeting when Jose Sigala was president? I attended several and I understand why he should never be elected to any office. As a matter of fact there was a person (female) that taped all those meetings, and I’ve seen a few. Jose Sigala is indeed “bad news.”

    • Garcetti did the work, O’Farrell took credit for it.

      • Steve, get off the medical marijuana. Break it down for us, dude. If you can. Making a claim and not backing it up. Explain it then. Tell us how it happened?

      • everyone is taking credit for something these days….what have YOU done to make YOUR neighborhood better?

  3. Thank you to the Atwater Village Chamber of Commerce for a great event yesterday at Atwater Elementary School. All of the candidates bring different skills that would serve them well running for Mayor. With all due respect Mr. Taylor, where was the current Councilmember and Mitch when people were getting shot down in our streets in Atwater and our cars were getting broken into? Have you driven the district, there is graffiti and illegal dumping everywhere.

    Its great to have high ideals, in reality I want to know which candidates will make my neighborhood safer and make sure we are getting our fairshare of City Services. Robert Negrete has been a part of our community and has stated that he will focus on Public Safety and will clean up our of parks of crime and gangs.

    • I hear you, bro. I respect Robert. He spoke passionately about his own neighborhood. But don’t get illogical by making claims that are simply false. There is not graffiti and illegal dumping EVERYWHERE, as you claim. And why don’t you ask these guys that yourself? Are they that hard to track down, or would you rather not put in the work? Or maybe you’ve already made your decision.
      I need someone that knows the ENTIRE district, but I won’t debate who the best candidate is here. Do your research, be informed, make your choice on March 5th. I’ll respect that.

      • Wait, is this the Mike Taylor from Los Feliz???? I know a Mike from the Los Feliz area. is that you bro??? come on man, its Juan, or as I was called Johnny. Your out here causing problems for Atwater now STFD!! LoL you too funny bro, we need to hang out again Loco!!!!

  4. Mike Taylor should be giving credit to Eric Garcetti, not his field deputy!

    • No kidding, saying Mitch worked on Atwater is like saying Luis Lopez is a mechanic…..

      • Personal attacks, where’s your integrity? Maybe integrity doesn’t matter to you, but it does matters to the people that actually care and respect their neighborhoods and the other people that live in it.

  5. I understand Mitch worked for Garcetti but we do have a lot of pockets in our communities that do need work. But if you really drive around the district oncluding Atwater you will notice many areas were ignored. Where was Mitch then? Your right, Mike, we do need someone who knows the whole district and who better than a home grown guy that was born snd raised in our community and really care what happens to it. From what I know about Mr. Robert Negrete, he was born and raised in our district, understands our basic needs, has the experience and is also aware of the big picture: jobs and transportation. Can we please finally elect someone who is home grown! Why don’t we ever give our community product an opportunity. It’s always someone whose lived in our district for a couple of years and now are an expert or just moved in.

  6. @ Juan Penas: And like “Robo” Wong from Garcetti’s office is a good decision maker. Next you’ll bring up everyone’s favorite: Ana “Bulldog” Guerrero as a reference. Thanks for the laugh, rookie.

  7. Garcettis office has NEVER stepped up to the plate for us since Mitch left office!! And to think Garcetti is running for mayor scares the pants off me!

    Mitch was the only one that helped us every time he worked at the office, and away from the office!!

    Never met Choi, public water and power, my bills are high enough, and so is the pension budget for the city unions
    Emile Mack…Fire department…nope!
    Michael Schaefer…don’t know who the felon is that is running for the seat,
    Mad Matt; why is he taking a step backwards, he doesn’t walk the way he talks
    Jose…didn’t know about the sumo fights he had, and charges filed against him.
    Josh Post, don’t know him, seems like a nice guy
    De Ocampo, seems like a nice guy
    Roberto Haraldson..never heard of him
    Sam Kbushyan..had a meeting with him a couple of years ago to start BID…and the BID never happened, thought he was head of Armenian Chamber of Commerce?
    Octavio Pescador…never heard of him

  8. Does anybody here have a phone number to block these candidates from calling all hours of the day begging for my vote? This is really making me not want to vote at all in March. Thanks!!!

  9. @ Juan Penas & Steve Valdivia, your comments are not based on facts. If Mitch O’Farrell was a “bad decision maker” why did Councilmember Garcetti promote him 3 times, out of the kindness of his heart? It’s absurd to say that Garcetti is going to keep a staffer around for 10 years and promote him all the way up to Senior Advisor if that person was a bad decision maker. That makes no logical sense. If this person that you named that works for Garcetti actually said that, then she’s either lying, or flat out trying to bad mouth Mitch. What a spiteful amateur this person must be. You guys can deny it if you want, but Councilmember Garcetti kept Mitch around for 10 years because he flat out kicked butt!

  10. With some exceptions, what a bunch of loosers, I mean your comments not the candidates, all have something to offer, research, think, decide and vote…ultimate is your, our, vote that will elect one of all…stop being negative about any of the candidates, they all deserve to be heard and considered, unless you have no glass ceiling…..lets stone all of them, why not run yourself ?

  11. Ensure public safety, maintain/repair the streets and sidewalks, trim the trees, maintain the medians, beautify all public spaces, add red car trolley to everywhere, tastefully increase parking. Help business. Be nice.

  12. Was Roberto Halaldson at the furum?

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