Jim Smith

Neighborhood Council Voting April 11

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Neighborhood Council Elections

10am-4pm Sunday, April 11
Oakwood Recreation Center
(corner of California and 7th)

President: Linda Lucks

Vice President: Carolyn Rios

Community Officers: (vote for one only)

Lula Boyland
Cindy Chambers
Buddy Clark
Ivonne Guzmán
Ira Koslow
Jed Pauker
Joey Soto
Kris Valentine

Factual Basis Community Officer: Amanda Seward


By Jim Smith

Those who still believe the Neighborhood Council (VNC) can play a positive role in Venice probably know that an election for its board will be held on April 11. Winning candidates will serve a two-year term, unless they drop out sooner.

Unfortunately, only one candidate will be on the ballot for each of the following offices: president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, communications officer and outreach officers. In addition, there are write-in candidates for president, vice-president, outreach officer and community officer.

There are 27 candidates who will be on the ballot for 13 community officer positions plus two more whose names you can write-in. Community officers don’t have much in the way of official duties. That’s probably why so many are running for these positions. Despite their lack of assigned duties, they hold the balance of power on the 21-member board.

There’s bad news for diversity in Venice. Of the 43 candidates (including write-ins), only two are African-American: Lula Boyland and Amanda Seward. There are only six candidates with Spanish surnames: Carolyn Rios, Anthony Perez, Mariana Aguilar, Ivonne Guzmán, Luis Hernandez and Joey Soto. And there are only 13 women out of 43 candidates.

A bylaw change a couple of years ago limits any voter to voting for just one of the 13 community officers. This change was made to prevent candidates from running on slates with a well-defined platform, something those in charge at the time believed to be evil. Although there is some confusion about it, apparently Venice residents also can vote for the factual-basis community officer. This position was mandated by the city for those who don’t live, work or own property within the boundaries of the neighborhood council but have some connection with it. Factual-basis voters may vote only for the factual-basis position.

On the positive side, the election will be run by the L.A. City Clerk’s office to prevent shenanigans by the current board. Because of complaints here and elsewhere, the city decided to supersede local bylaws and (un)democratic practices and run the elections from city hall. In one previous VNC election, supporters of one faction were allowed to electioneer in front of the polling place and sometimes inside the voting area, while supporters of a different faction were required to campaign 200 feet away. In a recent referendum on permit parking, the ballot boxes disappeared overnight before the ballots were counted.

The Candidates

President and Vice President: Linda Lucks, the current vice-president is running for the top spot. She has been involved in a number of progressive causes and is the former president of the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners (BONC), the city board that oversees all neighborhood councils. She is a conciliatory voice and is generally well liked by many with conflicting points of view.

There is a write-in candidate, James Hubbard, a proponent of permit parking, He seems to have teamed up with Mark Ryavec, the write-in candidate against Carolyn Rios for VP.

Ryavec is probably the most uncompromising advocate of permit parking, which if implemented, would force many RV dwellers out of Venice. He has teamed up with a far-right group, the Pacific Legal Foundation, to sue the Coastal Commission for its decision against permit parking. If Ryavec’s lawsuit prevails, the Coastal Commission would lose much of its authority to limit development in coastal zones, something that would please the Pacific Legal Foundation no end.

The bottom line is that if Hubbard and Ryavec win, we’ll be condemned to two more years of yelling, bickering and lack of concern for any issue other than getting the homeless and RVs out of town. On the other hand, Lucks and Rios seem to be open to solutions that will benefit both the homeless and the community at large, and let us get on to other issues.

There are two candidates for Chair of the Land Use and Planning Committee, which is being vacated by Challis MacPherson. Both candidates, Alam Glick and Jacob Kaufman, sound acceptable to those of us who are tired of overdevelopment and want local building limits in the Venice Specific Plan enforced, but who knows. There’s a candidates’ forum at 6:30pm Thursday, April 8 at Westminster School for those who are curious.

At-large Community Officers: Most of the candidate statements at www.venicenc.org/ Candidates are not very informative as to where candidates stand on issues of concern to Venetians. One candidate talks about his dogs, another informs us about her jogging and several tell us they just blew into town and want to be our leaders. Others just didn’t bother to post a statement.

Here are some of the best of the contenders (excluding those who couldn’t get it together to file on time), based on their track record and statements (remember, you can only vote for one):

  • Lula Boyland is a long-time grassroots Oakwood activist and artist.
  • Cindy Chambers is savvy on all the issues the VNC should be addressing.
  • Buddy Clark has a long, long history of community involvement and a wealth of experience.
  • Ivonne Guzmán is involved with women’s issues and has a food distribution program at the Vera Davis Center. The Beachhead ran a profile about her last month: http://tinyurl.com/ylkg26p
  • Ira Koslow is a bit cantankerous but a hard worker who gets things done.
  • Jed Pauker is another hard worker who plays well with others.
  • Joey Soto is an environmentalist and a sustainable living advocate, two issues which the VNC should address.
  • Kris Valentine is also an environmentalist. You can’t have too many of them on the Board.

Sorry if we overlooked some good candidates. It was probably their own fault for not letting the Beachhead know how great they are. Missing the filing deadline and having to be a write-in candidate is not behavior that should be rewarded. Please don’t whine to us.

The last, but not least, office which everyone can vote for is the factual basis community officer. Perhaps the most outstanding candidate in the entire election is Amanda Seward. She has been an essential part of the fight to save nearly 800 apartments at Lincoln Place. Seward, a lawyer, is now working with low-income residents at the Holiday Venice buildings who are trying to buy their apartments. Her presence on the VNC board will give it prestige and credibility. Seward was interviewed by the Beachhead:  http://tinyurl.com/ygq9ofw. Therese Dietlin, who is also running, would be worthy of your vote were she not running against Seward. Better luck next time, Therese.

The city clerk’s office picked the Oakwood Recreation Center for the site of the election because they do not have to pay rent for the facility. Someone neglected to tell them there is no parking there. If you’re planning to vote, ride you bike or walk (which you should do anyway). The polls will be open from 10am to 4pm, Sunday April 11. You’ll have to show your papers – Driver’s License, utility bill, etc. – proving you are who you say you are (unlike when you voted for U.S. President or Congress). See above for the time and location of the candidates’ forum.