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New Direction: Forescee Hogan-Rowles ready to take the lead

Cynthia E. Griffin and Stanley O. Williford | 2/23/2011, 5 p.m.

It used to be, when you said Black Los Angeles, people's thoughts immediately conjured up South Los Angeles and what Councilman Gilbert Lindsay used to call the "Great 9th District."

That was where the largest majority of Black Angelenos once lived. Today, that is no longer the case. Integration, affluence and housing affordability have dispersed folk as far away as the Inland Empire, Antelope Valley and Santa Clarita Valley.

Today, Los Angeles' 8th District has the largest population of African Americans. At the same time, according to a report produced by Beacon Economics called "Los Angeles City Council Districts 2010 Economic Report," it is also one of the most ethnically diverse. The same can be said for the economics. On the one hand, there are the affluent enclaves of Baldwin Hills and View Park where doctors, lawyers, entertainers and other professionals enjoy homes, neighborhoods and vistas that are definitely the envy of the city.

On the other hand, there are the communities around Manchester and Vermont avenues still left with empty, often trash-strewn parcels of land wrought by the civil unrest of 1992 that swept through the city. There are the neighborhoods around Century Boulevard and Figueroa Street where residents do not have the luxury of walking to a nearby bank, a sit-down restaurant or relaxing at an entertainment venue.

This is also the district that, according to the Beacon report, employs the fewest number of people (41,340) and is home to fewest number of businesses (1,875). This compares to 57,000 people working in 6,568 companies in the 10th District--another area that has been a historical African American enclave.

In terms of income, the 8th District claims an annual average wage of $38,898, which is well below the city average. The district also has the smallest share of gross receipts in L.A., but showed growth in 2005 and 2007 that was called "exceptional" by the 2010 Beacon report.

On the plus side, the Beacon report also noted that the average wage paid in the district has shown strong growth over the last four years, and that includes a 5.1 percent increase in 2009 alone.
This is a broad picture of the environment that candidates campaigning for the 8th District council seat must face.

Those candidates--incumbent Bernard C. Parks, who is seeking his third term; and challengers Forescee Hogan-Rowles, a proven community development expert, and grassroots activist Jabari Jumaane--have been battling for months trying to convince constituents that they are the best persons for the job.

According David Horne, a political science professor at Cal State Dominquez Hills, it will take more than anger at what the incumbent has or has not done to capture the district.
It's going to take the "A" game, meaning showing residents what and how they can do better than what is currently happening in the district.

There are a number of key community leaders who have already stated their preferences. They believe that one of the challengers--Hogan-Rowles--has what it takes to unseat incumbent Parks.
Following find their comments and thoughts: