Two candidates have been branded with the unflattering designation of carpetbagger. Should we really get worked up over it? Consider this: if Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, decided to rent an apartment in Valley Village and run for the CD2 seat, would anyone complain? Personally, I would urge him to take on the full responsibilities of the City Council and the Mayor. We would be much better off.
OK, that is an extreme hypothetical example, but we should think twice before dismissing a candidate simply because of residency. A candidate’s entire resume and inherent abilities should form the primary criteria for fitness.
Residency should be considered, but let us not make it a litmus test.
Let me weigh in on this one issue as it relates to Paul Krekorian and Chris Essel. Both have only recently rented apartments in CD2; however they do have social and political connections to the Valley. We should question how relevant those connections are and can they ramp up quickly enough to serve us adequately.
Krekorian’s family has had a strong presence in the Valley since the 1930s. He has stayed in touch with events on this side of the Hollywood Hills. His Assembly District covers the north part of the Council District. Although everything south of Valley Glen is in Feuer’s District, there is an overlap of issues, particularly as they relate to real estate development and allocation of City services to our region. I have generally heard positive comments about his involvement from my contacts in the 43rd District.
I had the opportunity to talk with Paul over the weekend. I was impressed with his sincerity, although I sensed he was not as familiar as I would have liked on SB 1818 and its adverse impact on our quality of life. Although he is experienced in dealing with the financial crisis at the state level, I am not certain if he has gauged the politics of the City’s grim fiscal challenges. The same forces that kept him focused on the California budget probably prevented him from grasping the enormity and complexities of the Los Angeles budget. To his credit, he did salvage the City’s share of the gasoline tax, but the dynamics among the Mayor, City Council and the municipal unions are more intensely personal in nature than the partisan ideological differences he faced in Sacramento. The battles are as different as a knife fight vs. an Olympic fencing match. Day to day local involvement is critical in understanding the mess here; by that measure, he is at a disadvantage vis-à-vis all the other candidates.
I have to question whether Mr. Krekorian is aware of the Neighborhood Council boundaries. As of July 30th, his website lists Valley Village as one of the communities in his Assembly District; it is actually part of Mike Feuer’s District. This is a small matter, but it is a sign he is not intimately aware of the City’s demographic profile.
I have not had the opportunity to meet with Chris Essel, so I must totally rely on other sources to evaluate whether residency is a major factor in her ability to represent CD2. I have requested a meeting.
Chris was born and raised in the Valley, so her ties based on family presence are comparable to Krekorian’s. I do not have adequate information to put together a complete timeline of her residency in the Valley. At one point she did live in Studio City, so I will give her credit for being at least casually familiar with life in CD2. However, I am certain that her focus has been south of the Hollywood Hills in recent years- years that have been tumultuous for the people on the hot side of Los Angeles. She has been absent from any involvement in the South Valley Neighborhood Council network- she has not made any overtures to VANC. Krekorian, on the other hand, has appeared and talked at length about traffic issues on Riverside Drive.
That said, she has been deeply involved with the City, but where has she been when the Valley was coping with DWP imposed water rationing that has left our landscapes parched, dealing with gang related crime, fighting SB1818 and the Mayor’s crusade to turn Magnolia and Chandler Boulevards in miniature Manhattans, or halting mansionization? She has been on the Westside, that’s where. It is all well and good that she has won the praise of the Doheny/Sunset community, whose residents hosted a $250 per person fundraiser so she could help us quaint folks on the other side of the hill, and earned a “meet and greet event” in Westwood, but she has to prove that the competence that guided her in her Paramount career is enough to offset her absence from the granularities of life in the diverse region that encompasses CD2. That could take years for her to absorb, much less master.
Both Krekorian and Essel understand the economics of the entertainment industry, Krekorian from his legal background and Assembly committee assignment and Essel from her hands on experience at Paramount and involvement in industry groups. Krekorian does have a leg up on Essel when it comes to business diversity. As a resident of Burbank, he has witnessed the demise of the middle class that resulted from the departure of the aerospace industry and recognizes the importance of encouraging multiple industries. While Essel’s knowledge of the entertainment industry is impressive, she appears to be a one trick pony when it comes to supporting business development. We need to do more than curbing runaway film production; we need to attract manufacturing as well. Krekorian is probably better positioned to deal with that.
I have only scratched the surface of these two candidates. The comparisons I have raised here are primarily related to their knowlege and understanding of CD2 and a few of the matters affecting it. It will be necessary for you to ask tough issue-specific questions at candidate forums.
While residency should not skew our reactions to their candidacies, it would be fair to ask both of them if they intend to move their primary residences and families to CD2 if elected. I think we all can agree that we want our representatives to be part of the everyday life in our own backyard while holding office.
Put that question on your forum agendas.
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