LOS ANGELES, Calif.–Councilman Bernard Parks, who started his career with the city as a police officer in 1965, was sworn in today for his third and final term on the Los Angeles City Council.

City Clerk June Lagmay swore Parks in his City Hall office, with family, friends and staff members looking on.

Parks won a difficult re-election campaign in March, with unions spending heavily to try to push him out of office.

“They didn’t know the district,” Parks said, “and all their money didn’t make them any smarter. Fortunately, our voters realized that they were being solicited by the ‘Three Stooges of L.A. Politics.”‘

Parks won more than three-quarters of the precincts in his district but narrowly escaped a runoff by 224 votes.

As chairman of the council’s Budget and Finance Committee, Parks has been at the center of three years of contentious budget negotiations that saw the elimination of more than 4,000 city positions amid battles with unions and department general managers.

Parks, who was the LAPD chief from 1997-2002, remains one of a small minority of council members that believes the city should trim the size of its police force to deal with the budget crisis.

He argues that new hires come with future salary and pension liabilities that make it difficult for the city to permanently close its structural deficit.

If he leaves office in 2015 as scheduled, Parks will have worked for the city for 50 years.