City Councilmember David Ryu made his last speech at the City Council on Tuesday of this week. Ryu, who was elected in 2015, is the first city council incumbent not to gain re-election in recent years. His successor, Councilmember-Elect Nithya Raman, will be installed on Sunday. Ryu served nearly five years instead of the usual four year term due to the City Council’s decision to align the municipal election with the presidential election. He replaced Councilmember Tom La Bonge, who served 14 years in office.
In his remarks, Ryu described his tenure as an outsider who had to learn the hard way that “working together was the only way – to make meaningful change.” And he urged his colleagues to press on with the hard work of addressing the challenges facing the city.
“But if there is one thing this Council must do,” said Ryu, “It is act now to make fundamental and systemic reforms that will Root out corruption, keep people housed and turn the corner on homelessness.”
In looking back on his term, Ryu said, “If I could have done anything differently, I would have gone further and pushed harder for the reforms I believed in and for the changes we desperately need.”
Below is the full text of Ryu’s speech, released by his office:
Thank you Madam President.
Colleagues, friends –
I speak on my final day in this Council – With a message of gratitude and hope.
Five years ago –
when I was elected to represent the people of Council District Four – I was a political newcomer.
I didn’t have any endorsements from inside City Hall –
And I ran not to join the system, but to change it, through anti-corruption reform radical transparency, and a commitment to put neighborhood voices first in my decision-making.
I refused developer dollars –
And become the first Councilmember in history –
to publish all my developer meetings and discretionary spending online
AND appoint a citizen-run community task force to oversee my discretionary funds
But I was also new to City Hall –
And I quickly learned that working together was the only way – to make meaningful change.
Getting things done doesn’t always mean being out front –
And leadership requires tough choices, compromise, and collaboration.
So I am honored
to have collaborated with many of you on delivering that change.
Together, we changed the way our City repairs its roads –
Prioritized wildlife, tree canopy and took on the crises of poverty and homelessness.
We reformed campaign finance –
increased the matching funds rate threefold for grassroots candidates –
And we banned developer dollars from local elections.
We built not just homeless housing across our City –
But empathy and understanding in our neighborhoods Which will be crucial to turn the corner on homelessness.
We launched my Children’s Savings Account program – the largest in the nation –
Giving every first grader in our city –
a dedicated savings account for higher education.
And, Madam President, as part of your families first agenda –
We introduced a plan for universal paid family leave –
Which will help build a more equitable city for millions of working families.
I am thankful to every one of you, as well as the Mayor
every general manager, commissioner, dedicated city employee –
And of course, my incredible team, who worked tirelessly to serve this district.
But most of all, I am thankful to the communities of Council District Four.
This district is full of neighborhood groups and hard-working residents – who are committed to improving our city.
Being able to partner with those community leaders and deliver for neighborhoods – Has been the honor of my life.
Growing up in the inner-city neighborhoods of Los Angeles – My family worried about making rent, getting to school safely- and even possibly getting deported.
I never could have imagined that one day I would be elected to serve my City.
But it is these same experiences –
that helped me be a better public servant, a better City leader – And make me who I am.
I am so grateful to my grandmother, mom and dad Who sacrificed so much to make my life possible –
And to my wife, Regina, who not only married me through this chaos – But supported me throughout this journey.
This moment is one of the most challenging our City and our Nation has ever faced. But even in the face of such adversity I feel hopeful about our future.
For the first time since I got here, we are taking seriously
the corruption that undermines our local government –
addressing the underlying issues that are at the root of our problems –
And breaking down silos and bureaucracy to deliver an emergency, FEMA-like response to the crisis of our time – homelessness.
But if there is one thing this Council must do –
It is act now to make fundamental and systemic reforms that will Root out corruption –
Keep people housed –
And turn the corner on homelessness.
These are things that this body is more than capable of. And it requires bold and prompt action.
Do not wait for a more opportune time. The best time to lead is now.
If I could have done anything differently –
I would have gone further and pushed harder
for the reforms I believed in and for the changes we desperately need.
We should not assume that just because a Democrat is entering the White House, someone will come and save us.
Los Angeles doesn’t need saving.
Our City has survived four governments.
We have bounced back from fires, floods, riots and recession.
And we are home to more diversity, creativity, and talent than any other place on this planet.
There are no small dreams in The City of Angels.
When we work together
and hold compassion for each other and our City There is nothing we cannot achieve.
I may no longer be a City Councilmember But I will always be an Angeleno.
And I look forward to working with all of you on continuing to serve our incredible City. Thank you. It was an honor serving with all of you.
About Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.
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