By BARRY LANK
Try to recover from the last election if you can, because we have another one in a couple of months – and, believe it or not, it will probably have more immediate impact on your life than the presidential race did.
On March 7, the city holds primaries for eight city council seats – not to mention three school board positions, the city controller’s job, the city attorney and, lest we forget, the mayor. The General Election is May 16.
This happens to be a big election for the Eastside, where The Eastsider will focus on council races in Districts 1 and 13. In District 1 –which includes all or portions of Cypress Park, Glassell Park Highland Park and Lincoln Heights — about a half dozen people have filed paperwork with the city indicating that they will be running for the seat currently occupied by Gilbert Cedillo. Meanwhile, in District 13, which includes all or parts of Atwater Village, Echo Park and Silver Lake, six people have qualified to run in the race to unseat incumbent Mitch O’Farrell. (Don’t know what council district you live in? Find out here).
What do you want to ask these candidates?
The Eastsider will be soliciting the candidates’ reactions on everything from homelessness to water to the plastic bag ban. Here are a few possible topics so far:
- Development: Los Angeles has one of the tightest rental markets in America – with the highest rentership rate of any major metropolitan area, and one of the lowest percentages of available apartments. How do we ease the housing crunch without crowding ourselves or losing too much of our local character?
- Gentrification: As Boyle Heights activists resist newcomers to their neighborhood, how do we balance neighborhood changes with the desire not to be priced out of your own homes?
- Infrastructure: Broken sidewalks, broken streets, aging water mains – our deferred maintenance has been mounting up for years. What do we need to fix first?
- Traffic: Look at any list of American cities with the worst traffic. It seems like you can always find L.A. among the top five. Is this an unsolvable problem?
- Environment: Coincidental with the city’s bad traffic, Los Angeles is also the worst city in America for ozone pollution, despite improvements to air quality over the years, according to the American Lung Association. What’s the next step in cleaning ourselves up?
- Homelessness: The number of homeless in L.A. has only been going up. In Council Districts 1 and 13, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority found about 5,000 homeless people, most of them unsheltered – with District 13 in particular seeing a 34% increase over last year. Anybody with eyes has also seen the growth of encampments in places such as the Los Feliz Triangle and downtown. How do we stem this tide?
- Water: How do we ensure a future for L.A.’s water supply as we shakily recover from the drought? What do we do with the Silver Lake Reservoir, now that it will no longer serve as a source of potable water?
- Schools: The L.A. Unified School District is facing a cumulative deficit of $1.46 billion through the 2018-2019 school year. How do we tackle this debt while still ensuring quality education?
- Crime: The Eastside has some of the higher crime areas in the city, including downtown, Lincoln Heights, Cypress Park and Boyle Heights. How do we get a handle on this?
What other issues should the candidates cover? Leave your suggestions in the comments or submit them in private.
Barry Lank grew up in the San Gabriel Valley, then went away for a seriously long time. He has worked in TV and radio, and currently helps produce The Final Edition Radio Hour.
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