I Cram to Understand: Where’s All of the Hoopla for the Local Elections?


Will local elections get Blacks to turn out in the same numbers as November?

I didn’t think it possible, but I have definitely become more cynical, especially when it relates to local politics. Add to that, I have begun to develop a few of my own conspiracy theories as it relates to said politics and the role we willingly or unwillingly play in the demise of Black political leadership and power in Los Angeles.

Having watched how Los Angeles’ Black political, religious, and community leaders mobilized like never before to get every Black person over the age of 17 ½ with a heartbeat to register to vote in last year’s presidential election, I cram to understand the lack of enthusiasm from the same group of people for the upcoming city election.

While what happens in Washington is important, chances are that what happens every week at City Hall, has a much more of an immediate impact on your way of life.

And even though this is true and our elected officials know it to be, there has been no Obama style campaign to continue what was started last year and keep voters, both new and returning, engaged and get them back out to the polls. Now why is that?

I think a bit more embarrassing is the fact that in parts of Los Angeles (La Brea Ave. just south of Washington Blvd.) , we’re still promoting last year’s General Election on billboards seen by hundreds of thousands likely registered voters. Normally this would be a good thing, except that it’s not 2008 and unfortunately, the deadline to register to vote in the March 3 City of Los Angeles primary, is February 17…2009.

Speaking of which, even more boggling to me is the recent campaign for the re-election of our current mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Coincidentally, I happened to run into our Mayor’s “Black community campaign kick off” this past Sunday on Crenshaw near Exposition Blvd. just as West Angelus Church of God in Christ was letting out—two days before the deadline to register to vote for him on March 3. Now I’m no rocket scientist but if the Mayor was really all that invested in getting our vote, wouldn’t he have kicked off his campaign a lot sooner?

Now I don’t always agree with how politics are played out here in Los Angeles, but I try to approach all situations with common sense.

It’s already been established that the Mayor has no formidable competition on the March 3 ballot. Like I said, I don’t always agree with the situation, but I’m just keeping it real. So with that said, what’s the use in wasting money on campaign headquarters and lawn signs to re-elect a Mayor who could get caught tomorrow in another sex scandal with a reporter only to have the odds increase in his favor for re-election? This is after all Los Angeles. Stranger things have happened. For the record, I am making no distinction between donor contributions verses taxpayer dollars, it’s all wasted money in my book.

Maybe I expect too much from candidates like the Mayor and others who are essentially in races against themselves to not take me for an idiot. Maybe it’s all a part of a political conspiracy. One that is predicated on keeping some of us away from our local polling stations come March 3 because should we become engaged it’d take more than a trip down mega church row on a Sunday to get our vote.

One of my political mentors, His Excelleny Mervyn M. Dymally, told me once that all politics is local. He was referring to comments made by Thomas “Tip” O’Neill—former Speaker of the House in the U.S. Congress—who was explaining how the problems and concerns cities around the country affect the actions of their representatives and senators in Washington.

All I know is that the sense of urgency around registering voters and electing President Barack Obama has all but deteriorated and in it’s place is a very loud silence on the part of our local elected officials and community leaders regarding elections that are just as—if not more important to our way of life in Los Angeles.

We don’t have the luxury of showing up at the polls every four years or when a Black man is running for president. We never did, and it’s exactly that attitude that paved the way for the current crisis in our educational system, political musical chairs that sees our elected officials moving from one office to the next, and our community forever being reactive instead of proactive where it concerns us the most—Main Street.

In order to make sure that the change that President Obama campaigned on reaches the least among us, we need to show up at the polls for all elections—local, State, and Federal, irregardless of whether they expect us to or not. Trust me when I tell you, other communities don’t have to be reminded when the next elections is or who is on the ballot and it shows.

I am not in the habit of depending on others to tell me when to vote or how to vote, I got that handled. If more of us did, then these type of political mind games wouldn’t go by unnoticed by the masses and candidates would be forced to actually show us why they should be elected or re-elected instead of telling us with a lawn sign or the timely visit to our side of town just prior to Election Day. I’m just saying…you can vote however you like, what’s important is that you vote.

The Court of Public Opinion

  • As one of the candidates for Mayor of Los Angeles who has attended several Urban Policy Roundtables over the years, I agree this is a very important election for the Back Community. With Prop B having the potential to tripple your DWP rates it is vital that voters take action.

    I beleive I have demonstrated through my actions my dedication to the Black community, Many times I have been called to Community Advisory Meeting of LAUSD by Black parents who were being told the meeting was to be in Spanish and there were no translators available.

    I have been an outspoken critic of the political sabatoge of LAUSD’s Admiral David Brewer.

    Keep on blogging and I will keep on fighting.

    David Hernandez Candidate for Mayor of Los Angeles.

  • Jboogie

    David, I am not saying you aren’t on the ballot, but what I am saying is that while you are running for Mayor, you haven’t managed to penetrate Black Los Angeles at all. In addition, for those people who do go to the polls, name recognition is going to play a huge roll in the decisions that ill informed voters make. It’s just a fact. I never said I like it.

  • Jeff

    Thanks for popping in Mr Hernadez! As far as a lack of interest in the black community, it could be said of many communities in this whole city at this point in time, there are a million other issues that folks are dealing with and see no help from the local level like job creation and keeping a house or simply a roof over their heads. And, usually with off elections, the interest along with the turnout is low and that means the status quo and the ones with name recognition winning, no matter what group they are from.

    To get folks out to vote, you need candidates who energize them and in the upcoming elections a loud voice to offer solutions to fix what’s wrong.

  • ryan

    Irregardless is not correct English.

  • BitchFace

    I worked as a political consultant in NYC, SF, and in So Cal for nearly a decade and was continually disappointed in the lack interest that is generated by local elections. The executive office is obviously an important role, but it is actually the work of local public officials from city administrations up to statewide seats that touches on most of our lives on a daily basis.

    What happens to your sales tax? Who administers funding for local health care and social welfare programs? What is being done about criminal activity? Who oversees what happens and how money is spent in our children’s schools?

    Community involvement is a term that’s been tossed around a great deal as of late in formulating a national movement of change. However, we need to take the same interest in regional matters in order to experience any substantive change. Inept and corrupt officials can comfortably maintain their roles in our lives because we allow them to. The first thing we should all be doing is learning about local candidates and supporting those who we see fit. That may seem like a no-brainer but constituents who actually make the effort to vote more than once every 4 years rarely make that effort. Voting along party lines isn’t the correct route either. I’ve advised more than one candidate to change their party for teh sake of carrying an election regardless of what their goals and intended policies were. You know what? It always worked. Just because I may agree with what our Democratic leader may say about any of the big issues (the economy, the war, health care, etc ) doesn’t mean that all of the members of the same party share that vision. However, it is all too easy for that assumption to be made.