Sunday, September 16, 2012


Running for office

The position I'm running for is at the very bottom of the pyramid of elected offices.  I aspire to be a member of a neighborhood council in Los Angeles.  Neighborhood councils were created about a decade ago in a major charter revision.  They are supposed to enable the voters to get closer to some elected city officials to register complaints about the potholes in the streets, the trees that lift up the sidewalk blocks and create tripping hazards, strange and unwelcome but legal developments in their midst, and a host of other problems.  In some cities the size of the districts represented by the councilmen, aldermen, commissioners, or whatever they're called are small enough that it is fairly easy to go to the representative directly.  Not here.  California believes in large electoral districts.  Our State Senate districts are larger than our Congressional Districts.  Our Assembly Districts are the largest of any State.  Los Angeles is served by just 15 members of the City Council.  By comparison, Chicago, a smaller city, has a board of fifty Aldermen.

Each neighborhood council has around 25 or so members.  Woodland Hills has 22.  Neighboring West Hills has, I believe, 25.  In some councils, all candidates run at large and the 25 or 22 or whatever who receive the most votes are elected.  Some of the losers can serve occasionally as alternates for members who happen to be absent.  Woodland Hills has a different structure.  The whole area is divided into seven parts.  Three members are elected by voters in each part.  One qualifies as a candidate in one of three ways: (a) you prove that you live in the part; (b) you do business or work in the part; or (c) you belong to a community based organization (CBO) in the part.  In my case, I qualified as a resident.  A member of a church, mosque, synagogue, temple, or other recognized religious organization could qualify as a CBO representative.  In addition to the 21 members associated with the seven parts, there is one member elected at large for all of Woodland Hills.

You may wonder why a body with little influence and whose members are unpaid would have such a complex election structure.  I wonder also, but I think I know a reason.  Unlike many neighborhood councils, Woodland Hills has a very diverse land use structure.  While most of the land is used for single-family dwellings, Woodland Hills also has a large shopping center, several insurance companies, several banks, and many well-appointed apartment buildings.  The deliberate splintering of the membership of the neighborhood council guarantees that no single interest in Woodland Hills is able to dominate the neighborhood council.

At any rate, I am running and I have a specific opponent.  He is also running to be the Residential member for my part of Woodland Hills.  If I am to prevail, I must attract more voters than he does.  Therefore, I invite those of you who live in Area 4 of Woodland Hills, or who work there, or who belong to a community organization there to come to the American Legion Hall at 5320 Fallbrook Avenue on September 29 and vote for me.  Don't vote for the other guy, vote for me.  Voting starts at 11 AM and ends at 5 PM.  Come and vote.
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