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
MEMBER, LOS ANGELES CITY COUNCIL
10th District — Martin Ludlow
While the Weeklyhas opposed term limits from the start, we’ve always said that in certain cases, they’d have happy consequences. One such circumstance is occurring this spring in the 10th District — a very diverse midcity seat encompassing Koreatown, Mid-Wilshire and much of Baldwin Hills; it’s the city’s most heavily African-American district while having substantial Latino, Jewish and Asian populations as well — where longtime incumbent Nate Holden is finally termed out of office.
Holden first won this seat 16 years ago with a reputation as something of an eccentric liberal, and in the years since, he’s grown far more eccentric and far less liberal. He opposed the LAPD’s consent decree with the Justice Department and numerous other causes that would have benefited his constituents; and his council-chamber rants — some of them packed with racial innuendo — are the stuff of legend and occasional nightmare.
Now, at least, Holden is going. Or is he? One of the two candidates vying for this seat, Deron Williams, has labored for no one but Holden since the beginning of his recorded history, when Holden took him, at about age 21, under his wing. As Holden’s chief district aide for the past four years, Williams has learned to service Holden’s supporters and fill their potholes — a limited set of skills that will take Williams, and Los Angeles, only so far.
Of the time period before he met Holden, all is murk and mystery. Williams was arrested in possession of cocaine and did time, but for a young man growing up in the conditions in which Williams apparently grew up, that’s, sadly, not all that exceptional — nor the problem with his candidacy. The problem is his lack of candor today, his insistence that he can’t remember the events surrounding his arrest. The 10th can do better.
Fortunately, in Martin Ludlow, it has a candidate with whom it can do a lot better. Ludlow is one of the most demonstrably dedicated and able progressives to come on the L.A. scene in years. Working as the chief Southern California aide for two Assembly speakers (Antonio Villaraigosa and Herb Wesson), as political director for the L.A. County Federation of Labor and the Western region of the Service Employees, and as the community-outreach director of the campaign to pass the Christopher Commission reforms, Ludlow has played a key role in virtually every struggle for L.A.’s multiracial poor, for civil liberties and civil rights, of the past 15 years. He’s a strong advocate of community-based policing and of a powerful, independent inspector general at the LAPD, of an ambitious affordable-housing policy and of a growth agenda tied to the provision of unionized, decent-paying jobs. At a time when much of the city’s African-American leadership looks inward, his entire approach to public issues is profoundly multiracial. Joining the newly elected Villaraigosa and incumbents Eric Garcetti and Ed Reyes on the City Council, Ludlow would be a key part of a progressive bloc at a time when living-wage and affordable-housing advocates are planning to push more ambitious agendas.
Martin Ludlow would be a great representative for his district and his city, and we support him wholeheartedly.
12th District — Julie Korenstein
Smith, a pro-business Republican, has a natural appeal to the many voters in this northwest Valley district who remain relatively conservative and cranky. They favored Valley secession by 61.3 percent to 38.7 percent, a greater pro-secession margin than in any other council district. Still, this district is more diverse and less conservative than it used to be. Not surprisingly, Smith presents himself as a centrist — a kinder, greener Republican alternative to Bernson, who virtually never met a development he didn’t like. And Smith does seem open to concepts like open space. Nonetheless, separating Smith’s record from Bernson’s poses a challenge. His career is embedded in Bernson’s.
Fact is, Smith was Bernson’s right-hand man for the last 23 of Bernson’s 24 years on the council. He led Bernson’s efforts on behalf of the Porter Ranch development and other real estate developments in Northridge and Chatsworth. He worked with Bernson against the development of the Chatsworth Dam area and against expansion of the Sunshine Canyon landfill. (Opposing that landfill remains a mantra of any candidate running in this area.) He did part company with Bernson on the issue of neighborhood councils. Bernson was adamantly against them; Smith supported them.
Being a loyal deputy is nothing to be ashamed of, but Smith has strategically avoided any mention of his actual job — working for Bernson — on his Web site, focusing instead on part-time duties as a reserve police officer and community involvement with the YMCA, the Jaycees and the Chamber of Commerce. Although he has submerged his ties to powerful downtown interests, Smith hasn’t eschewed their support, benefiting from the same donors that have long bankrolled Bernson campaigns. He’ll outspend opponent Julie Korenstein by a considerable margin.