LOS ANGELES, Calif.–Opening a conference of African American activists, Councilwoman Jan Perry today decried the slow pace of political advancement for Black women in the nation’s second most populous city.

The so-called summit in the City Hall chambers was the fifth annual legislative conference hosted by Delta Sigma Theta sorority, one of the nation’s largest African American women’s organizations. It focused on four themes: the budgets at the federal, state and local level; voting; redistricting; and the environment.

Perry, who is widely expected to run for mayor in 2013, touched on several of the summit’s themes, including the empowerment of Black women in politics.

“This city is about 230 years old. I’m only the second African American woman to have ever been elected,” Perry told the crowd, most of whom were dressed in Delta’s traditional bright red color.

“That’s, to me, cause for alarm, not cause for celebration.”

She touched on her efforts to restore the environment in South L.A., including two new wetland parks. She said she will continue to fight off attacks to break up her 9th District, which includes downtown and a large swath of South Los Angeles.

Perry, an avid supporter of the city’s redevelopment agency, said her efforts to redevelop downtown Los Angeles have reaped huge benefits for South L.A. She cited several new grocery stores and mixed-use developments and a new neighborhood city hall at 43rd St and Central Avenue.

Perry’s endorsement of redevelopment agencies comes amid great uncertainty over their fate. Gov. Jerry Brown has called for eliminating them completely. The most recent budget, passed by a simple majority of Democrats and vetoed by Brown, would dramatically scale back CRAs by requiring them to forward large chunks of their revenue to the state.

Perry also invited her small audience to propose candidates to replace her when she is termed out of office in 2013.

Councilman Bernard Parks also addressed the assembly. He discussed the city’s budget and provided an update on his efforts to arrange for the redevelopment of Marlton Square, which he described as “a 25-year eyesore.”

Parks said he expects demolition of some of the buildings to begin in the next 30-60 days and to have a redevelopment plan put forward by the property owners and the city, which owns 20 percent of the land, within the next 60 days.

By Richie Duchon | City News Service