By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
Holden has two serious opponents on the primary ballot, both of whom practice the kind of cross-racial politics that are an anathema to the incumbent. Scott Suh, who as a teenager came here from Korea, was until recently a staffer for the county Department of Social Services, helping people move from welfare to work; he instituted a successful job fair in the Crenshaw district. On his own, he also initiated a program to help African-American businessmen get loans from Korean banks.
Madison Shockley, the pastor at the Congregational Church of Christian Fellowship, is an activist-cleric in the tradition of a James Lawson, a Leonard Beerman, a William Sloane Coffin -- that is, in the best tradition of American progressivism. Educated at Harvard and the Union Theological Seminary, Shockley's been convening multiracial dialogues at his church since the early '90s, discussions after which a number of national organizations have modeled their own programs. He's been particularly active in fostering discourses and building coalitions between L.A.'s black, Korean, Latino and Jewish communities. He's helped expose the brutal conditions under which maquiladora workers labor, and been a leader in the efforts of Peace Action to scale back the Pentagon's budget.
Shockley is the candidate of Coalition L.A. -- a multiracial network of activists from precincts across the district to whom he's pledged to be regularly accountable. He's one of the few contestants for any office this spring offering detailed and innovative proposals. In a city where hundreds of thousands of people live in garages, Shockley appears to be the only candidate actually addressing our housing crisis: proposing either a bond measure or a fee on major developers to fund more affordable housing. He would be a creative, as well as a healing, addition to the council and to civic life, and we support his candidacy with great enthusiasm.
District No. 12 -- Marilyn Stout
Hal Bernson, the city's most conservative council member, is seeking re-election for one last term in this, the city's most conservative district. Progressive activist Marilyn Stout isn't really running a campaign, but she offers an alternative for 12th District voters who believe, as we do, that Bernson doesn't deserve another term.
District No. 14 -- Alvin Parra
The Godfather is dead, or at least not running for re-election. Longtime incumbent and power broker Richard Alatorre is stepping down in the 14th, and 13 candidates are vying to succeed him -- six of whom, by virtue of either the content of their politics or the size of their bankroll, require some discussion.
Luis Cetina, a civil engineer with the Metropolitan Water District, has in recent weeks won support, most mysteriously, from some unions, not to mention some very public winks and nods from Alatorre himself. Cetina has no record of political involvement, having only recently re-registered as a Democrat, and that, by his own admission, at least partly due to the encouragement of former Pennsylvania Governor Robert Casey, a leading proponent of anti-choice positions to which Cetina also adheres. His familiarity with civic affairs is spotty at best: The controversy over the funding of the Staples Arena, for instance, seems to have slipped his notice altogether. Candidate Sylvia Robledo, a hospital administrator and a president of the Commission Feminil, knows about the arena and wouldn't be caught dead at a Bob Casey rally. But she also espouses a number of positions -- for instance, opposing any increase in the size of the City Council because of its (basically negligible) cost -- that simply aren't thought through.
Assistant District Attorney Nick Pacheco served diligently and often intelligently for the past year and a half on the Elected City Charter Reform Commission. Until last December, he was also an unpredictable vote on the commission. Thereafter, as he sought (successfully) the mayor's endorsement for the council seat, he became the mayor's unwavering ally. His abrupt conversion to All Things Riordan, and his longtime alliance with some of the more nationalist players within the Latino community, raise serious questions about his suitability to represent the 14th.
Victor Griego boasts the longest résumé of anyone in the race, or on the ballot. Working first as an organizer and then as a consultant, he has at various times labored on campaigns for the United Farm Workers, for Southwest Voter Registration, for progressive union leaders Maria Elena Durazo and Gil Cedillo, and against NAFTA. Perhaps most notably, he headed up UNO's successful 1987 campaign to raise the California minimum wage. More problematically, he represented Kajima Construction in the Belmont High fiasco, and handled such candidates of dubious merit as Vicki Castro and Alatorre himself. He is a deal maker par excellence in a district that has had more than its share of deal makers.
Griego has what one observer has called a "transactional agenda rather than a programmatic agenda." He's an organizer -- having used his considerable campaign resources to set up a large number of house meetings, out of which has emerged what he touts as a district cleanup program that, he tells one and all, has already picked up "10 tons of trash." The unfortunate corollary, however, is that his campaign has yet to produce one piece of paper bearing Griego's own ideas for the district or the city.