Tue, Dec

Just Say NO to Professional Politicians: Wesson, Ridley-Thomas, & de Leon


LA WATCHDOG--While most of the attention on Super Tuesday (March 3) will be on the Democratic Presidential candidates, there are three “down ballot” races that will have a direct impact on the lives of the residents of both the City and County of Los Angeles. 

These include two races for the Los Angeles City Council and one for County Supervisor. 

One of the major themes of the Presidential race is that our government is controlled by deep pocketed special interests who fund the campaigns of our professional politicians who in turn favor the special interests.  And now it is time for outsiders to end this vicious circle and take back our government by electing honest politicians that represent the people.  

This is certainly true in Los Angeles where professional politicians are playing musical chairs, feathering their own nests and those of the special interests, all at our expense.  

There are three unworthy candidates who do not deserve our votes: City Councilman Herb Wesson who wants to replace Mark Ridley-Thomas on the County Board of Supervisors, County Supervisor Mark-Ridley Thomas (“MRT”) who wants to replace Wesson on the City Council, and former State Senator Kevin de Leon (“KDL”) who wants to replace Jose Huizar on the City Council.  

These three professional pols have many things in common.  

They have significantly larger war chests than their opponents.  A significant portion of their campaign contributions are from out of district contributors.  They are using their current positions of power to extract campaign contributions from those that are dependent on favors or contracts from the government.  The average size of their contributions is significantly larger than those of their competitors, of which many are maxed out, indicating that most donations are from special interests.  They all have the support of the campaign funding public sector unions.  And they will most likely benefit from “dark money” independent expenditure committees at the last minute in an effort to buy the election.  

Herb Wesson does not deserve our votes.  He has overseen the City’s corrupt pay-to-play schemes that have included Jose Huizar, Wesson’s chief of staff, the Sea Breeze development in Harbor City, the out of character high rise in Koreatown across from RFK Community Schools, and numerous other shady deals that enriched campaign funding real estate developers.  

The fiscally irresponsible Wesson also approved the budget busting labor agreements with the police and firefighter unions that blew a $1.6 billion hole in the City’s budget over the next 4½ years.   No wonder he has their endorsements.  

Mark Ridley-Thomas is looking to replace Herb Wesson on the City Council.  But MRT is more interested in using a seat on the City Council as a steppingstone to be our mayor.  At the same time, he would be pulling down $200,000 a year (plus benefits) and a City paid staff to promote his agenda.  MRT has also not agreed to reimburse the City for the costs of the special elections to replace him on the Council (if elected). 

We also have the controversy of the County funding the remodeling of his home office and the lack of transparency into the use of County employees.  And then there is the diversion of $100,000 of campaign funds to USC to pay for the salary of his son who resigned from his seat in the State Assembly because of #MeToo issues.  

Like MRT, Kevin de Leon views the City Council as a stopping off point on his way to being elected mayor.  KDL has also not agreed to reimburse the City for the costs of special elections to replace him on the City Council (if elected).  

But more to the point, KDL will bring even more “Sacramento Sleaze” to the City Council where there is little transparency and lots of behind closed doors wheeling and dealing to the benefit of the special interests. 

We have viable alternatives to these three professional politicians. 

In the race for Supervisor, Jan Perry, who saved DWP Ratepayers several hundred million dollars, will be an excellent Supervisor.  And all women Board of Supervisors would be a first! 

In the race to replace Wesson, Grace Yoo, a long-time and fiscally responsible resident of Council District 10, would be an excellent choice to replace Wesson.  This would add another women to the City Council, a stated goal of Council President Nury Martinez and former President Herb Wesson.   

In the race to replace Huizar in Council District 14, there are three women who would be excellent alternatives to KDL:  Cyndi Otteson (Eagle Rock) and Raquel Zamora (Boyle Heights), both of whom have been recommended by fellow CityWatch columnist Tony Butka, and Monica Garcia, the chair of the Los Angeles Unified School District.   Again, another woman added to the City Council. 

Just Say NO to the professional politicians that are supported by special interests.


 (Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee and is the Budget and DWP representative for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council.  He is a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate.  He can be reached at:  [email protected].)