So I am just getting back in from spending the day on the road campaigning and getting out the vote with Congresswoman Maxine Waters for Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard Parks, candidate for Los Angeles County Supervisor in the 2nd District.
The days activities included canvassing my West Adams neighborhood and introducing Parks’ to my neighbors. A trip to the Spice Salon on Pico where I get my hair done where I introduced Parks’ to Kenny and the crew there, followed by a stop next door to the laundry mat where we spoke with employees and residents as they washed their clothes. After that, we headed over to the infamous Slauson Swapmeet where we spent just about three hours meeting with shoppers and business owners who were all too happy to show their support for Parks and Congresswoman Waters, who is up for re-election.
And speaking of Waters—let me officially say that I have forgiven her for choice to support Senator Hillary Clinton for President. In fact, I told her as much last weekend when I co-hosted a shindig at my BFF’s house with her and Parks and L.A.’s Black LGBT community before flying off to San Francisco. The way I figure it, of the Representatives from South Los Angeles that we have in Washington—Waters’ worth to us extends far past her District. She’s been a staunch supporter of issues where others were just out of touch or too afraid to touch. From Jena 6 to the crisis in Haiti, Congresswoman Waters is known to represent. And being that she cast the vote that took Obama over the top with delegates making him the official nominee—well, I told her it’s all good.
But before I go any further, I really have to give it up to the entire Parks’ family who continues to plug away on the campaign trail even though Parks’ father passed away this week and yesterday his brother had a stroke that left him in a coma. Between handling arrangements and visiting the hospital, not to mention the emotional strain and pressure that this has put on Parks and his entire family—he hasn’t missed a beat. Had that been me, I don’t think I’d be dealing with it as well as the Parks’ who are a class act.
So for those of us involved in politics, through Tuesday, it’s all about getting out the vote in our communities, from the top down. The race for President is important but the local races have just as much if not more of an impact on our daily lives. In Los Angeles, the race for the 2nd District seat on the County Board of Supervisors has heated up and it’s come down to two candidates, one of whom is Bernard Parks.
Parks, is the former Los Angeles Police Department chief who replaced the infamous Chief Darryl Gates. Currently, Parks is a city councilman for L.A.’s 8th District who joined the ranks of Los Angeles politics in 2003 after being denied a second term as police chief by then-Mayor James K. Hahn. This is part of the reason Hahn lost his re-election bid in 2005. Hahn alienated Los Angeles’ African-American community which holds Parks in high regard and is also the community that had helped to elect him Mayor in the first place.
Some of you will recall that Parks’ and I have had our differences over the years. One major one included the renaming of an intersection after Crenshaw Christian Center’s Rev. Frederick K.C. Price at the taxpayers expense back in 2005. Price is no friend to the lesbian and gay community and I felt that we shouldn’t be in the business of naming intersections after homophobes and then making taxpayers, some of who are gay, foot the bill. I mean it’s already bad enough we have Crenshaw Blvd., which was named after developer George L. Crenshaw who built a series of upscale residential tracts in mid-city Los Angeles in the early 1900s. The only probably is, what many people didn’t know was that this is also the same guy who didn’t want ‘Negroes’ and ‘Asians’ on said property for more than 24 hours. But when there was a push to rename Crenshaw after L.A.’s first Black mayor Tom Bradley, the community said ‘hell to the no’ because they loved riding down what is known as ‘The Shaw.’ I didn’t want to go down that road with Rev. Fred Price Square.
In the end, Price got his square, but not at the taxpayers expense and I developed a relationship with Bernard Parks wherein over the years he has impressed me with his willingness to work with and in the community.
Fast forward to present day and Parks’ is in a fierce race to replace retiring County Supervisor Yvonne Burke, who was the first African-American woman to represent the West Coast in Congress and the first female Representative to give birth while serving in the House.
In Los Angeles, the Board of Supervisors is the governing body of the County of Los Angeles, a charter county. As such, it has the unique function of serving as the executive and legislative head of the largest and most complex county government in the entire United States.
Los Angeles County is divided into five supervisorial districts, nearly equal in population. The boundaries of each district are adjusted every ten years following the Federal census. One Supervisor for each district is elected to serve on the Board of Supervisors for a four- year term, and any vacancies occurring mid-term are filled by the governor.
The Board of Supervisors adopts an annual budget and makes policy decisions for the administration of County departments. In addition, the Board sets County employee salaries and conducts public hearings on zoning, real property transactions, and other proceedings that require that the public be given an opportunity to have input. The Board also adopts local regulations affecting the unincorporated areas of the County, to protect the public.
Los Angeles County follows usual California practice (which is similar to that of almost all other states) in that it did not subdivide into separate counties or increase the number of supervisors as its population soared after 1920. As a result, the concentration of local administrative power in each county supervisor is high; each one represents more than 2 million people. Moreover, because of the equal representation provisions of the Voting Rights Act, Supervisor District 2 was designed to have a plurality of African Americans.
The 2nd supervisoral district extends from mid-Los Angeles south to Carson, including along the way Compton, Watts, South Los Angeles, Ladera Heights, West Adams, Mid-City, Jefferson Park, Lynwood, Athens, Gardena, Inglewood, Lennox and more.
Supervisors have legislative responsibilities in the unincorporated areas, but their main function is providing services to the people.
The county’s five supervisors oversee a $21-billion budget and a range of programs, including public health, probation, local welfare, and children’s and family services.
With more and more people are seeking public aide, this position is especially crucial because we need to ensure County services are protected during this economic meltdown and State budget cut of $129 million to the county budget.
I am not going to go into detail about Parks’ opponent because there is no need to. A very wise man once told me that in politics there are no permanent friends or enemies, just permanent issues.
I am not going to tell you whom either candidate is endorsed by, because at the end of the day, almost none of those endorsements mean anything to me anyway. If there is one endorsement that matters at all—it’s the endorsement of the outgoing Supervisor and she’s endorsed Parks’. I like to make up my own mind on who I am going to support by doing my homework and staying engaged enough in what’s going on in my city to make an informed decision. No television commercial, celebrity, pre-recorded phone call, or mailer can do for me what I can do for myself—and that’s research the issues, the candidate’s, and their track record.
However, what I will say is that Burke spent her career focused on the people. I really admire her support for the foster care system over the years and more recently her fight to keep King Hospital in our community—an issue the next Supervisor is going to have to champion…that is if they expect to stay in office. I appreciate Burke’s support for the local community programs—from the African Marketplace to the Pan African Film and Arts Festival, Los Angeles’ Annual Black Gay Pride Celebration, and our local HIV/AIDS organizations like the Minority AIDS Project. I want to see that support continued with her successor.
To the extent that my opinion matters to any perspective voters regarding this race, I will say that it’s important that we elect someone who has a demonstrated commitment to the community they are going to represent. Someone who is the same person whether the cameras are on or off. Someone who isn’t afraid to go out on a limb and support the most important special interest—the people. Someone who isn’t going to get into office and forget who helped get them there. Someone who is willing to try new ideas on how to do things and who is going to make sure that L.A.’s 2nd District is fully represented on the County Board of Supervisors. For me, that person is Bernard Parks.
For more information on volunteering with the Bernard Parks for Supervisor Campaign, please contact:
3734 Crenshaw Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90016
Parks’ Election Night Victory Party
Tuesday, November 4
3734 Crenshaw Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90016