Opinion by Dennis Zine
Last Tuesday Eric Garcetti won the race for mayor in a field of 10 opponents garnering over 80 percent of the votes. Quite a victory for the former Los Angeles City Councilman who I worked with for 12 years while a member of the L.A. City Council, representing the 3rd District. Mayor Garcetti worked hard to help elect former President Obama to office. In return, Obama endorsed Garcetti for re-election. It is rather unusual for the president of our country to endorse a candidate for a local office. This reflects the influence and loyalty our mayor has with important people in America.
While the victory is a great accomplishment for Mayor Garcetti, it reflects the lack of civic engagement by the voters of Los Angeles.
While conducting fundraisers around the country, our mayor was able to generate millions for his re-election fund. With his victory in the primary election, Mayor Garcetti has a green light to move forward with his agenda in a progressive manner for Los Angeles. There will surely be more density in housing and millions upon millions will be dedicated for our public transportation systems. Hopefully this will help reduce the transportation gridlock on our local roads and freeways.
While the victory is a great accomplishment for Mayor Garcetti, it reflects the lack of civic engagement by the voters of Los Angeles. With $19 million in tax dollars spent to run the election by the county and less than 20 percent of voters exercising their right and responsibility to vote, one questions who is actually voting to raise our taxes and elect people to office. Is it apathy or neglect or just a lack of interest in an election? The lack of voters going to the polls begs the question: Does anyone care and how do we fix the situations impacting our quality of life in this region? And what will change for those of us who are paying taxes and questioning when the homeless situation will improve and how?
First of all, the voters moved to increase the sales tax ¼ of a cent in L.A County to help relieve the homeless situation. This, in addition to the $1.2 billion bond measure that was passed in a previous election, should remove the excuse that there are insufficient funds to address the exploding homeless situation. Time will tell if money does the trick.
With Measure S going down to defeat, the building of apartments and condos will continue with more and more market rate units available for those who can afford the costs.
There will surely be more funds available when recreational marijuana finally hits the retail markets soon. What will happen with those funds is yet to be determined.
Dennis Zine served on the Los Angeles City Council representing the 3rd District from 2001 to 2013. He was elected in 2001 and re-elected in 2005 and 2009.