Anne-Marie Johnson – Silver Lake’s lifer on the neighborhood council  and the TV screen

Ann-Marie Johnson | Sasha Shemirani.

By BARRY LANK

SILVER LAKE — Anne-Marie Johnson is a familiar face on the neighborhood scene as well as the TV screen. In Silver Lake, where she was raised and has lived for nearly her entire life, Johnson is known for her activism, serving on the neighborhood council for most of this decade, and is now co-chair of its governing board.. “I’ve been a renter, a landlord and a home owner, all in Silver Lake,” she notes in her election biography.

Outside of the neighborhood, Johnson, who has been a working actress since 1983 and has appeared in numerous TV roles,  is probably best known as the character of Althea Tibbs in the TV series In the Heat of the Night.  While she has continued picking up roles as recently as the current TV series Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later,  Johnson, who according to Wikipedia is 57,  now has an eye fixed on politics.

When asked whether she has political ambitions beyond the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council, she answered merely, “Yes.”

Here are a few questions we sent her, with her responses on topics ranging from development and traffic to whether Silver Lake is part of the Eastside:

When did you start getting involved in politics?

My family got me started when I was really little. I helped fill envelopes for the first Tom Bradley mayoral election. My father and Tom worked together on the LAPD, so he was like family. That was my first “official” involvement with L.A. politics.

What has been your greatest satisfaction on the neighborhood council?

There have been a few. Being the first African-American women elected as co-chairperson. Providing my parliamentarian experience to the board since 2010. Working with fellow board members to streamline our Standing Rules and Bylaws. Memorializing in our Standing Rules that Silver Lake is two words and not located in the “East side of L.A.” That was especially important because there is a real east side in L.A. that has an extremely important history in this country. Culturally, racially, ethnically, politically… We thought incorrectly taking on that history was an insult to actual neighborhoods in the east side and ignored the rich history Silver Lake has.

What’s been your greatest frustration on the council?

There was a period of over a year (2014-2015) when the board was populated by some individuals who may not have believed in the health and well being of the neighborhood council process and tried to “disrupt” a system they knew very little about nor bothered to understand. It was extremely frustrating and nothing got done. The monthly meetings were disorganized, with agendas uncompleted. Our reputation as a functional neighborhood council was ruined. (In 2013 we had been named by the L.A. City Council as one of the top five neighborhood councils out of 95.) Fortunately the board has rebounded beautifully. Since May 2016, all of our agendas have been completed and our meetings run smoothly, we have a list of achievements and community outreach that is incredible, and we don’t waste a penny of our budgets. I’m proud of the work we do and what we continue to accomplish as a functional and respectful board.

How has Silver Lake changed in your lifetime?

Well … it’s over-built. Losing its diversity. Crowded. Exciting. Convenient. Rude. Visually stunning. Entitled. Fun. Over-priced. Self-consumed. Blessed. But these are all typical growing pains. Silver Lake has gone through all of the changes every desirable neighborhoods in the country has experienced. That’s what change is all about. We just need do a better job acknowledging and respecting the history, diversity (culturally, racially, ethnically, economically, etc…) of Silver Lake and treat it more kindly.

What would you like to see change in Silver Lake?

I’d like to see a moratorium on luxury, high priced developments. I’d like to see an enforceable prohibition on developers who purchase rent stabilized dwellings and convert them to non stabilized units and/or short term rentals. I’d like to see a real dedication from our city council representatives to affordable and low income housing developments. I’d like to see Rowena Avenue returned to what it was prior to 2013 with the addition of traffic lights, street lighting, a bike lane, better timed traffic signals, and more LAPD patrol to enforces traffic laws. This can really be achieved. There just has to be dedication and bravery from city agencies to get it done. I’d like everyone who drives on our residential streets (stranger and resident) to slow the f*&$ down!!

Support The Eastsider Today

Bloggers don’t live on comments alone. You can support The Eastsider, a privately-owned company, by purchasing an annual Reader Sponsorship. Your financial support and sponsorship will help defray the costs of gathering neighborhood news and stories. You can pay via PayPal or by using your credit or debit card. Your sponsorship is not tax deductible. Just click on the button below to select a sponsorship level and sign up today.

The Eastsider offers three levels of Reader Sponsorships:

$25 Reader Sponsorship

  • Get An Eastsider Reader Benefits Card that entitles you to deals and discounts from neighborhood merchants
  • You will be thanked by name on the blog and recognized as a sponsor of The Eastsider

$50 Reader Sponsorship

  • Get An Eastsider Reader Benefits Card that entitles you to deals and discounts from neighborhood merchants
  • You will be thanked by name on the blog and recognized as a sponsor of The Eastsider
  • Complementary Eastsider postcards

$100 Reader Sponsorship

  • Get An Eastsider Reader Benefits Card that entitles you to deals and discounts from neighborhood merchants
  • You will be thanked by name on the blog and recognized as a sponsor of The Eastsider.
  • Complementary Eastsider postcards
  • One-month advertisement promoting the nonprofit, school or charity of your choice located or active in our coverage area (email us for details).
Fill out my online form.

Thanks for your support!

Jesús Sanchez, The Eastsider LLC

Click here if you are having trouble viewing this form

Load comments