Almost 200 people listened to 13 candidates vying to represent CD 4 Sunday at a community forum organized by the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council and MidCity West Community Council at John Burroughs Middle School. Moderator Phil Shuman pressed the candidates to give specific answers to questions posed by the audience including two middle school students who asked the candidates what they would do to make city streets safer and increase water conservation.
Each candidate was given two minutes to present their candidacy before Shuman launched into questions from the audience.
Tara Bannister said she would bring a brighter, bolder vision for Los Angeles drawing on her experience as an association director and educator. She urged the audience to “be the pebble in the shoe” that makes a difference.
Jay Beeber took credit for eliminating LA’s red light cameras and cited his tireless efforts on transportation and parking issues as evidence of his ability to get things done despite the city bureaucracy. Beeber is a business owner and volunteer 2nd Vice President of the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council.
Teddy Davis touted his recent endorsement by the LA Daily News. Davis said he has gone door to door listening to voters and has refused to take money from developers and the DWP.
Former LaBonge staffer, Shelia Irani, said balancing the budget would be her number one priority. She said she would increase the contribution that city employees pay for their benefits to find additional funds for general fund.
Wally Knox said he would pursue an initiative or a change to the city charter to prevent city council members from granting variances to developers that deviate from community specific plans like the Park Mile Plan. Knox, an attorney, also served in the state assembly for six years.
Fred Mariscal, a marketing executive and chair of the GWNC Outreach Committee, said he spent almost 20 years waiting to get his citizenship in the US. He pledged to walk the entire district to get to know as many people as possible.
Tomas O’Grady, the other candidate endorsed by the LA Daily News, vowed to cut his salary in half if elected. Raised on a farm in Ireland, O’Grady said he lives frugally and believes the City Hall should too.
Joan Pelico, former chief of staff to CD 5 Councilman Paul Koretz, said she started her career professionalizing the fitness industry with mandatory standards. Pelico said she was able to get things done by working closely with community groups and city departments.
Carolyn Ramsay, former chief of staff for Councilman Tom LaBonge who has endorsed her, pointed to her locals efforts to improve the neighborhood such as the Larchmont medians, the street trees in Windsor Square, and the establishment of the HPOZs. She was questioned by Teddy Davis about her commitment to help Hancock Park repair streets with concrete instead of asphalt. The issue absorbed more time than any other.
David Ryu described how his mother and grandmother emigrated to Los Angeles from Korea. Ryu said he was happy to be back at John Burroughs where he attended middle school and was proud to be a product of Los Angeles public schools. He said he would work to be an independent voice for neighborhoods.
Ross Sarkissian also emigrated to Los Angeles where he grew up and attended Occidental College then Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Sarkissian said he was an outsider who would focus on policy not politics.
Mike Schaeffer described himself as the best educated and most qualified candidate with a doctorate of law, experience as city councilman in San Diego and hotelier. Schaeffer also got the most laughs when he said he wasn’t concerned about term limits. “I’m 77 years old, I’ll serve 12 years and die,” said Schaeffer. His campaign slogan is “safer with Schaeffer.”
Steve Veres, President of the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees, asked the audience who did they trust to make the changes needed in City Hall. He cited his record at the Community College District as evidence of his record as a reformer.
After more than 2 hours, Shuman concluded the forum with one minute summary statements by each candidate who each urged the audience to vote on March 3.
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