Congresswoman Maxine Waters (Photo by Malcom Samuel)

Bernard Parks Kicks Off Re-Election Campaign

8th District Becomes of Focus of Heated Race

With 37 days until Angelino’s head to the polls, Saturday, 8th District Councilmember Bernard Parks’ kicked off his campaign for re-election.

The 8th district race is probably going to be one of the most watched races this election because Parks, who is running for his third and final term, is being challenged by a former appointee of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to the DWP board– Forescee Hogan-Rowles who while relatively unknown outside of political circles is being backed by Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and almost every union in Los Angeles—simply put—money and lots of it is being dumped in the race by outsiders in an effort to unseat Parks.  And if the race between Parks and Ridley-Thomas for the county supervisor seat in the 2nd district is any indication as to what we can expect in the 8th district race—it’s going to be a nasty one once again splitting Black L.A.’s political community right down the middle.

Parks, who before serving on the city council was the chief of police for the Los Angeles Police Department, is known for being conservative when it comes to Los Angeles’ budget woes.  As chair of the Budget and Finance Committee, Parks led the fight to try and give the council more control over the pension benefits for utility employees—pissing off the 8,600 DWP workers union who has thrown their support and money behind his competitor.

The Service Employees International Union Local 721, which represents thousands of civilian employees at City Hall, has also endorsed Parks’ challenger citing disappointment over Parks’ push for layoffs as a way of addressing the city’s financial crisis—a deficit of about $63 million this year which is expected to be even larger going into the fiscal year.

Even more money and support is expected to turn out against Parks from the AFL-CIO to the tune of half a million dollars to help unseat Parks’ and get a more union friendly person elected to the council.  Friday night, the Los Angeles Police Protective League also announced their endorsement of Hogan-Rowles.

Like I said nasty.

9th District Councilmember Jan Perry (Photo by Malcom Samuel)

With horns honking their support of Parks in the background, 9th district councilmember Jan Perry, a Parks’ supporter, emceed the event’s program that featured a foray of elected officials—chief among Congresswoman Maxine Waters.

Waters, an ardent supporter of Parks, was well received by supporters who had gathered on the corner of Crenshaw and Vernon in Leimert Park.

“Let them come on—the people will take care of Parks,” was her message to Parks’ challenger’s no doubt in response to the massive union representation and dollars lining up behind Hogan-Rowles.

In addition to Waters, Parks’ council colleagues Eric Garcetti, Dennis Zine and Greig Smith also offered their words of support for his re-election—which was nice but more for show than anything because most voters in the 8th district don’t who the hell they are anyway.

“This man has the ability to direct us in the right direction,” said Councilmember Zine.

Councilmember Smith added, “We need Bernard Parks to save this city from ruins.  He is the heart and soul of fiscal responsibility.”

A familiar face out in support Saturday was former 10th district councilmember Nate Holden who told supporters “Bernard Parks is your friend.”

Other supporters of Parks’ included Magic Johnson, Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina, L.A. number one Democrat Bobbie Jean Anderson, radio personality Da Poetess, and one that I could do without and whose endorsement does absolutely nothing for me—Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca.

As I see it, the race in the 8th District simply comes down to this.  On one side you have people who do not live in the district trying to control what goes on in the district by electing someone who will be more amenable to their position.  On the other side you have someone who is well liked and respected by the community—the actual people who vote—who quite frankly believe that Parks’ has done a great job of representing the heart and soul of Los Angeles—the 8th District.

The 8th District has some real serious issues.  From access to decent grocery stores, to the crime, lest we forget Marlton Square–and I could go on and on.  But it’s also the district where many of the Blacks left in Los Angeles live.

Incumbents always have an advantage over their challengers—however when your challenger has over a million dollars thanks to union support in their campaign war chest—that evens the playing field just a bit.  However, it’s still going to be an uphill battle for Hogan-Rowles who as I said before is relatively unknown outside of L.A.’s political bubble and doesn’t have the history that Parks’ has with the community.  And unfortunately for her, it’s those people who vote.

Parks' campaign supporters (Photo by Malcom Samuel)

More than likely, this race is going to be determined by absentee voter ballots, which go out this week on February 1.  And in the 8th district, Blacks 50 and older still make up the bulk of absentee voters and likely voters.

Voter registration for this election ends on February 22.

Stay tuned, it’s just getting started.