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Former councilman Dave Cunningham dies

OW Staff Writer | 11/16/2017, 12:23 p.m.
Dave Cunningham, former Los Angeles city councilman representing the 10th District..

Dave Cunningham, former Los Angeles city councilman representing the 10th District has died at age 82. Cunningham, at the time a business executive, famously took over the district after Tom Bradley was elected mayor of Los Angeles in 1973. Cunningham represented the district until his retirement in 1987.

Cunningham was only 38 when Bradley endorsed him for the city council with one of his opponents being actor George Takei of “Star Trek” fame. During his tenure on the city council, Cunningham regularly received high marks for his environmental efforts, specifically in calling for a ban on oil drilling in Santa Monica Bay. His 10th District ran from Olympic Boulevard on the north, to La Cienega Boulevard and Cataraugus Avenue to the west, Rodeo Road and Jefferson and Adams boulevards on the south, and to the Harbor Freeway to the east. In the early 1970s, the 10th District was 50 percent Afican American, 20 percent Jewish, 12 percent Asian American, 12 percent Latino, 5 percent White and about 1 percent Native Indian.

Cunningham was a staunch opponent of “forced busing” of Black students into White schools, yet he was a leading voice for school desegregation within the Los Angeles Unified School District in suggesting the city cut-off funding until more minority students received better educational opportunities.

In 1978, Cunningham ran for the 28th Congressional District against Assemblyman Julian Dixson and State Senator Nate Holden. Dixon won the election.

In March 1976, Cunningham and Councilman Art Snyder got into a heated argument during a city council debate over assistance to small and minority business in the city. Almost coming to blows, the two were eventually separated by the council sergeant -at-arms.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti released a statement on Cunningham's death:

“Dave Cunningham served his community with passion and dedication and never lost sight of why the people of the 10th District elected him to succeed Tom Bradley, and sent him to City Hall to represent them for a decade: to keep up the fight for equal justice, equal access and equality in services. His strong advocacy made history in our city, and my thoughts today are with the councilmember's family and all who loved and admired him.”