On March 3, voters in several local cities will go to the polls to elect members of their city council and local school boards.
The past several elections have seen historically low voter turnouts, with in some cases fewer than a quarter of the eligible voters deciding who will lead us through these complicated times, and how to spend our tax dollars.
In cities across the region, what development, housing and city services should look like are ongoing concerns. While the economy has improved, the plight of many low- and middle-income families has lagged behind.
In every city there is talk about encouraging businesses to locate there and ways to create more jobs.
Education is still seen as the best way to improve one’s chances for a better life and financial security, yet there are diverse views on what’s needed in our schools to help students achieve.
The people elected next Tuesday will have a big say in that happens in all these areas.
EGP encourages voters to have a say in their future, and to get out and vote March 3.
These are our ballot recommendations:
Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education – 5th District
We endorse Dr. Ref Rodriguez in this race.
We feel that the incumbent Bennet Kayser has had an opportunity to assist the LAUSD in reforming many issues of concern to parents and students of the school district, but seems to just continue in the role of supporting the status quo.
We have not been impressed by his performance and feel that he failed to act as an independent or inquisitive advocate for the diverse mix of students in his District.
From questions regarding the iPad fiasco, to the debacle at Jefferson High with LAUSD’s student (mis)information system, a technological disaster, it seems to us that he has failed to demonstrate the leadership needed to correct these problems. It’s time the District is represented by a more thoughtful and resourceful representative.
Ref Rodriguez to us is just such a candidate.
Rodriguez grew up in Cypress Park and has a good understanding of the challenges students, faculty and parents in the District’s lower-income, predominantly Latino schools face.
As one of the co-founders of the charter schools under Partnerships to Uplift Communities, he has a comprehensive understanding of what it takes to create schools that work, from developing curriculum to supporting teachers to engaging families and the surrounding community.
While it’s easy to lump people in to pro- or anti-charter school groups, we were impressed by Rodriguez’s commitment to make all schools work, and willingness to decertify charters that fail to meet education goals and standards. He supports ensuring teachers have the tools they need to succeed, including being fairly compensated and involved in the decision process as a team member. But he also understands that teachers do not have an exclusive on good ideas and what works.
We like that Rodriguez has more questions than answers, and promises to use his questions to break through the entrenched bureaucracy which often stands in the way of progress.
We believe he is uniquely qualified to be on the school board to represent the district’s diverse students and parents.
Among Ref’s many contributions to the area in education is his appointment to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing by Gov. Jerry Brown and Board member of Alliance for a Better Community Los Angeles.
He has served as a board member of Glassell Park Neighborhood Council, board member of Los Angeles Boys and Girls Club, Los Angeles and a member of Small Business Alliance.
Rodriguez’s education consists of Doctor of Education Fielding Graduate University and Bachelors of Arts and humanities, Loyola Marymount University.
Vote for Ref Rodriguez for LAUSD District 5.
Los Angeles City Charter Amendments 1 and 2
We recommend a No Vote on both measures to amend the city charter to change the elections dates for city offices and ballot propositions.
While we agree that something must be done to increase voter participation in city elections, changing the sequence of elections and terms of office are not the solution to the problem of voter apathy.
Changing city elections to coincide with the Presidential Election does not guarantee that voters will be any better informed or enthusiastic about city elections. In fact, there is a real danger that the information about city offices and ballot measures will be drowned out by the louder and better-financed state and national campaigns. Not to mention that the change would result keeping some elected officials in office nearly two years longer than voters might want.
It’s an experiment that the city doesn’t need at this time. What city voters would probably prefer is a way to make voter eligibility and voting less difficult. We believe many potential voters would come out to the polls if they could register the same day to vote by provisional ballot and if there were less complicated ways to vote once registered.
Money spent to change election dates would be better spent on city services like street and sidewalk repairs. Vote No on Charter Amendments 1 and 2
Commerce City Council Election – Vote for Two
While there is something to be said about the smooth working of a city council not embroiled in political one-upmanship, it is equally important to have city councils with members who are willing to stand alone when they don’t agree with their fellow council members.
That is why we endorse Denise Robles for reelection and Hugo Argumedo for the second open seat.
Hugo Argumedo has been on the council before, elected in 1997, 1999, 2003 and 2007.
During the time he served Commerce experienced an era of growth in many areas, from new retail developments to improvements in the city’s infrastructure and services.
The Crown Plaza Hotel was inaugurated and the Citadel was expanded, which led to the creation of many jobs for the area. He helped negotiate a new contract with the fire department, saving the city millions of dollars. He helped pass a hotel visitor tax, which now generates approximately $2.3 million for the city.
We are well aware that his tenure was not without controversy, but we believe he has learned valuable lessons from his mistakes that are likely to help him push for greater transparency if elected.
We support Denise Robles because she has not been afraid to be the lone voice of opposition on issues before the council. She has refused to be bulldozered, when it may have been personally more practical and advantageous to just get along.
That’s not to say that we always agree with her; in fact, there have been times when we thought she was on the wrong side of an issue.
But we believe that Robles has conducted herself in a professional manner and represents voices in the city not always heard. Like her fellow council members, she has her own constituency and followers and that’s okay.
One person speaking out alone is often seen as an interloper, and while they may have valid points of views and concerns, they are often written off as a troublemaker.
EGP believes the reelection of Robles and election of Argumedo will add balance to the equation, although it is our hope the council will avoid splits on issues that are more about power and control than differences over the best path to serve Commerce residents and businesses.
Vote for Robledo and Argumedo for City Council.
Earlier Endorsement: Jose Huizar for Los Angeles City Council District 14