Wed, Jun

Janice Kamenir-Reznik Up Close (Part 1): “The Exorbitant Cost of Housing is a Major Issue for Women


CAMPAIGN 2016-As State Senator Fran Pavley terms out for the 27th District seat, Janice Kamenir-Reznik is the sole female candidate to throw her hat in the ring. Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl reminded a gathering of voters in Encino last weekend that women officeholders often lend additional oversight to issues impacting women and families. Kuehl provided the example of Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s (D-MD) sponsorship of the Bipartisan Women’s Preventive Health Amendment to the Affordable Care Act. Of course, gender shouldn’t stand alone as a reason to vote for a candidate.


Kamenir-Reznik brings decades of experience as an advocate and community leader, working to improve the lives of women, children, and working families in Los Angeles and around the world. She is the co-founder and Immediate Past President of Jewish World Watch, an interfaith coalition that advocates against genocide and provides on-the-ground humanitarian support to more than 500,000 survivors in Congo and Darfur.

As an attorney, she has served as President of the California Women’s Lawyers, where she worked to encourage the appointment of more qualified female judges to California’s courts and helped Sheila Kuehl and Abby Leibman establish the California Women’s Law Center, where she also served as President. As President of the Los Angeles County Judicial Procedures Commission, the candidate worked with LA County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky to develop the nationally recognized Self Help Legal Access Center, which now serves hundreds of thousands of people across L.A. County.

Kamenir-Reznik was named 2014 Woman of the Year by State Sen. Fran Pavley.

State Senate District 27 covers a diverse and expansive area, from bedroom communities like Calabasas Agoura Hills, Santa Clarita, and Westlake Village through the San Fernando Valley cities including Woodland Hills, Encino, Tarzana, Porter Ranch, and Reseda, as well as Malibu and Topanga. The district also covers Ventura County communities Bell Canyon, Thousand Oaks, Oak Park, Moorpark, Simi Valley, and Thousand Oaks.

I sat down with Kamenir-Reznik to discuss vital issues facing California and her plans to move the state forward.

Paid Family Leave: To ensure the implantation of the expanded Paid Family Leave Program, we must put into place an enforcement mechanism and we must evaluate the effectiveness for both paid family leave and pay equity issues. Those are two issues we will be continuing to hear in the Legislature.

Housing Crisis: The exorbitant cost of housing is a major issue for women, who head many single parent households, as well as for middle- and low-income people across the district. Still, affordable housing is controversial. We must “connect the dots” to allow for more development and to provide mandates or incentives for developers to provide affordable housing. We need more rental units in L.A. County. We are hundreds of thousands of units short and that’s where we need to overcome the objections of neighbors or neighborhoods.

We don’t need to encourage housing where there are no jobs or access to transportation. We need to look at environmental issues as an integrated policy. Public transportation is developed or in the process of being developed in downtown and in parts of the Valley. We must find a sensible and smart way to provide housing for people who live in our city, not only technically affordable at $3,000 per month but reasonably priced for working families. This takes lots of leadership.

Education: In the 27th District, education is a big issue. LAUSD, which serves a large portion of the LAUSD, is the target of complaints, especially about graduation rates and competency of students, which need to be addressed.

There’s also the growing concern that charter schools are pulling revenue from traditional public schools. Part of the public financing of education is that public dollars should not be given in general without accountability. Charter schools must function with the same standards of safety and quality of education; if not, they should lose their charters.

On the other hand, we can learn from charter schools that are functioning well and implement their successes in traditional schools so we don’t lose more kids. It’s a delicate balance. To be pro- or anti-charter schools is missing the point. We must deal with the bigger question, which is how to ensure all kids in the districts get quality of education that is essential for the future of our state. All kids needs to have opportunities and we need to figure out how we can get there.

This is also politically charged, with labor issues, pensions, student testing and teacher morale. We need to address top heavy administration and funnel more money into teaching dollars. There are vested interests on both sides. Tough issues require a visionary with powerful leadership skills, someone who isn’t beholden to one side but knows how to move the ball forward to provide fair teaching conditions and good results.

In our next column, Janice Kamenir-Reznik will address the drought and infrastructure issues, utilities, campaign finance reform, and criminal justice.


(Beth Cone Kramer is a successful Los Angeles writer and a columnist for CityWatch. Part 2 of Janice Kamenir-Reznik Up Close will be posted on Monday, Apr 18.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.



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