If You’re Running for a Council Seat, Being an Incumbent May Be a Big Advantage


A previous Trouble-Finder column identified 10 ballot measures to be decided in the City’s Primary Nominating Election. This column, too, is about that March 8 election; it focuses on the seven Council Districts in which residents will choose their candidates for the General Election in May.

In six of those seven districts, the incumbent Council member seeks to be re-elected. But In the 12th District, the incumbent, Greg Smith, is leaving the Council. The following are a list of council members:

Paul Krekorian, Second District; Tom LaBonge, Fourth District; Tony Cardenas, Sixth District; Bernard C. Parks, Eighth District; Herb J. Wesson, Jr., Tenth District; and Jose Huizar, Fourteenth District.

Each of these Council members faces opposition, but as the incumbent, they enter the race with a big advantage over their opponents.

Consider this: The typical incumbent has been in office for four years. His staff (which includes 18 exempt Council aides) have answered countless constituent calls. They have blanketed the District, done all kinds of things for constituents, and made the Councilman look good. Predictably, those satisfied constituents will now be inclined to keep their Council member in office, right?

But shouldn’t the voters of the District know more about their representative than that he’s responsive? Don’t citizens have a right to know what their representative is actually doing to improve services/cut costs at City Hall?

Well, listen up, Angelenos, you’re about to learn a few ugly facts about your representatives on the City Council. But please note this key Charter provision:

Section 541: “The Board of Civil Service Commissioners shall have the power and duty to make and enforce the civil service rules and to establish and maintain the civil service system…”

The first ugly fact is that all the Council members running for re-election know Charter Section 541 is routinely trampled. By doing nothing, by allowing the charter-bashing to continue, those Council members violate their oath of office.

A second ugly fact is that all the Council members running for re-election know the Board of Civil Service Commissioners is being illegally degraded. By doing nothing to stop the lawlessness, Council members betray the public trust.

A third ugly fact is that all the Council members running for re-election know the City’s most expensive resource, its $4 billion workforce, is mismanaged. But by doing nothing to upgrade the management of employee performance, the Council members expose a serious lack of commitment to the public service. That may well lead the voters of their Districts to find them unfit to stay on the Council.

Please contact Samuel Sperling at samuelmsperling@yahoo.com.

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