Parks and Recreation

Photo by Robert Yager

Bernard Parks' victory party wasn't exactly a coronation, but it was close to one, starting with the food: fried chicken, catfish, Cajun sausage, shrimp jambalaya, peach cobbler and gourmet ice cream. Parks was anointed by nearly 80 percent of the voters in his South L.A. district.

All of which means that Mayor James Hahn will face a council with one man who tried to take him out (newly elected Antonio Villaraigosa in the 14th District) and another, Parks, in the 8th District, who might like a chance.

Parks worked hard and raised enough money to make sure the election results would be a foregone conclusion. But there still was drama over whether people would have room to dance (they did), and over whether Parks would join in (he didn't). And there was ample entertainment from the parade of politicos who arrived to bask in the reflected glory of the recently fired police chief, who has now resurrected his civic career. District Attorney Steve Cooley came; so did City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, county Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, and noted black activists John Mack and Danny Bakewell.

But ordinary citizens and starstruck fans were more crucial to Parks' victory. Jerry Edwards, the owner of a catering service, called Parks "probably one of the best police chiefs Los Angeles has ever had." Edwards praised Parks for "rising past defeat in one area to succeed in another. It is a sign of a true champion."

In another part of South Los Angeles, the race to succeed Nate Holden will feature a runoff between labor activist Martin Ludlow and Holden deputy Deron Williams. Ludlow's campaign has already seized on the theme of good-new versus bad-old — bad-old in this case being the label it will try to stick on Williams as Holden's longtime, though still youthful, aide. City electrician Louis Wright sees matters differently. "We have closed five drug houses in the community," said Wright, while at Williams' headquarters Tuesday night. "Deron was active in doing this. He worked with the community."

In the northwest San Fernando Valley, the victory goes to the center: The runoff will feature center-right candidate Greig Smith, who got the most votes, and center-left candidate Julie Korenstein. The biggest block of votes to fight over belongs to far-right candidate Paula Boland, who finished a strong third.

The other council races were either lightly contested or not contested at all. The winning incumbents were Tom LaBonge and Wendy Greuel. And Tony Cardenas will replace termed-out Ruth Galanter.

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