“Democracy transformed from thin paper to thick action is the greatest form of government on the earth.”
—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
On March 3, the constituents of LA County will vote in what has come to be known as “Super Tuesday,” because the largest number of U.S. states will hold primary elections and caucuses on that date.
LA County’s second supervisory district could be called a “Super District.” It spans more than 150 squire miles and includes more than 2 million residents within part of LA and several unincorporated areas, plus the cities of Carson, Compton, Culver City, Gardena, Hawthorne, Inglewood, Lawndale and Lynwood.
Three well-known politicians are running for Second District Supervisor: Holly Mitchell, who is currently a California senator; Jan Perry, who was formerly an LA City Councilperson and later head of the city’s Economic & Workforce Development Department; and Herb Wesson, who is leaving his current seat as the 10th District city councilman.
Our Weekly asked the candidates questions about healthcare, homelessness and human trafficking.
Holly Mitchell represents nearly 1 million residents of California’s 30th Senate District, which ranges from Century City to South LA and takes in Culver City, Cheviot Hills, the Crenshaw District, USC, downtown LA and a portion of Inglewood. She was named the first African-American to chair the powerful Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee in 2016 and she has an endorsement from Gov. Gavin Newsom.
A member of the California Legislative Black Caucus, Mitchell recently attended a “State of Black California” event at UCLA and encouraged African-Americans to get engaged in political issues.
“I long for the day when Black people have the luxury to not engage,” Mitchell said. “Black people need government as our employer, as the educator of our children, as our healthcare provider, as our houser, as our CalWORKS provider, as our SNAP provider. We still rely on government, good, bad or indifferent.”
Mitchell voted for the Healthy California Act—a bill that would provide comprehensive universal single-payer health care coverage and help control the high costs.
“My plan is to ensure the Second Supervisorial District has the medical institutions it needs and to expand access to quality, affordable care,” Mitchell said. “We disproportionately carry the burden of poor health outcomes—due in part to systemic racism, a lack of preventative resources and limited access to affordable and quality care.”
In Sacramento, Mitchell worked to allocate $166 million in funding for the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, but funding is not the only solution.
“My plan to address our homeless crisis consist of one: Stabilizing our communities — We can’t just build our way out of this crisis, we must also leverage existing housing stock and stem the tide of new residents who are becoming homeless. Two: Scaling-up resources and solutions that work —This new reality demands we quickly expand and scale up our plans and projects to meet the real need. And three: Build for all — A true plan to address our homeless crisis must include a plan to build more housing that is accessible for all income levels.”
A former, local CEO of Crystal Stairs—the largest child and family development non-profit in California—Mitchell was inspired to work in Sacramento as a result of the 2008 statewide budget cuts to child care and education.
“The Board of Supervisors made the right call with shining a light on businesses that help perpetuate sex trafficking—an issue that disproportionately impacts our young girls in the Second Supervisorial District,“ Mitchell said. “We must also listen to survivors and better understand how to address this issue from their lived experiences and insight.”
As Councilperson for LA’s 9th District for nearly a dozen years, Jan Perry was instrumental behind the creation of Staples Center, L.A. Live, the Nokia and the JW Marriott. She claims that these building projects, along with housing units, created more than 90,000 jobs.
Mayor Eric Garcetti named Perry general manager of the Los Angeles Economic and Workforce Development Department in 2013. The department programs are designed to help build local business and strengthen the workforce. She has been endorsed by the National Political Women’s Caucus Los Angeles County Coordinating Council.
Our Weekly asked her the same questions about homelessness, human trafficking and healthcare.
“We need to get the hospital fully operational,” Perry said, referencing the Martin Luther King Jr. Medical Campus. “It’s important not only to set policy, but to implement and fund policy. Back in the day, that hospital was revered as one of the foremost trauma centers in the region. People chose to go and work at that hospital.”
“We also need to create more small business in its orbit and in the healthcare field—businesses and opportunities for people to work in the healthcare industry. We have this platform, we just need to continue to use it to build the community.
“We have to make sure that the curriculum in our junior high schools, high schools and colleges are aligned with what’s going on in the communities,” Perry said. “We will need more assisted living, more caregivers. We’re dealing with ‘diabesity’ heart disease, childhood obesity—all those things that that disproportionally affect African-American women and men.
When it comes to homelessness, Perry believes that the county’s efforts so far have been too slow.
“The county is sitting on $200 million on unspent funds. I would propose an amendment to HHH,” Perry said. “We need to mobilize the bureaucracy.
“An amendment to HHH would make concessions for developers to make projects that come in at lower costs per square foot. It would give them a more specific timeline. Because no one was prepared for the onslaught of these developer applications, the permitting taskforce is unable to expedite these projects through the approval process. We have to mobilize the bureaucracy infrastructure to move things along faster.”
Perry is grateful that society is taking a different view of persons who live and work on the streets of LA.
“Thank God human trafficking is being looked at differently,” Perry said. “I’m glad we’ve had a culture shift in our perception of people out on the street. They are victims and face many challenges. There are victims of sex trafficking right here. We have our own domestic issues right here in our own communities. It’s tearing at the fabric of our communities.
“There needs to be very specific outreach to people in that victim pipeline, to pull them out and provide them with a safe haven—protected and confidential.”
Herb Wesson, who will be termed out as the councilman for the 10th District, received a recent endorsement from the LA County Democratic Party. He served as a state assembly member and worked toward consolidating local, state and national elections to increase voter turnout.
“Throughout my career, I have always been outspoken on healthcare issues and fought to improve the quality of healthcare, expand services and reduce healthcare costs for consumers,” Wesson said.
“Your zip code should never dictate your lifespan. As supervisor, I will ensure that everyone has aces to high-quality, affordable healthcare—including mental health and addiction services.”
Wesson’s policy plan stresses that he will work to:
—Build a new children’s hospital, medical clinics and urgent care facilities within the Second District so everyone has access to high-quality, affordable care, regardless of their zip code
—Expand vocational programs to train nurses, medical technicians and other healthcare professionals
—Increase funding for county hospitals
—Use Prop. 63 funding to offer mental health services at all county clinics and provide counseling services at all of our schools
—Bolster mobile clinic programs and
—Keep tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, out of the hands of children and teens.
Wesson plans to replicate his City Council policy of building affordable housing units on under-utilized government property. In addition, as supervisor, Wesson plans to:
—Close loopholes in the Ellis Act to stop developers from destroying affordable housing to build luxury apartments.
—Incentivize innovative building solutions such as 3-D printing and the use of recycled shipping containers to reduce costs
—Expand veteran services and build new housing so that no one who fought to keep our nation safe is forced to live on the streets
—Create an emergency rental assistance program that provides short-term, low-interest bridge loans to prevent evictions
“There is no place for crime against women and young girls in any modern-day, civilized society,” Wesson said. “I have worked closely over the last few years with Councilmember Nury Martinez to reduce the harm caused by human trafficking, including $80,000 from my office’s discretionary accounts to rescue underage victims of sex trafficking.”
In order to provide the right resources in order for victims to become survivors, we need to provide a specific type of housing,” Wesson added. “The county can begin to build this type of housing that offers the services that treat the specific trauma that human trafficking victims are subject to.”
In total, there are seven candidates on the ballot for the Second District Supervisor seat. Other candidates include Albert Robles; Rene Lorenzo Rigard; Jorge Juno and Jake Jeong, If a runoff is necessary after the March primary, the top two vote-getters will face one another in November.