The Government You Deserve
“In a democracy, people get the kind of government they deserve.”
Election Day for Highland Park’s District 1 is today, May 21. The choice is between termed-out state legislator, Gilberto Cedillo and Jose Gardea, Chief of Staff to our retiring CD 1 councilmember, Ed Reyes.
Council District 1 is the most densely-populated district that occupies the central and most historic core of the city. The district covers the diverse neighborhoods of Highland Park, Mount Washington, Cypress Park, Glassell Park, Lincoln Heights, Montecito Heights, Solano Canyon, Dodgertown 90090, Chinatown, Elysian Park, Echo Park, Angelino Heights, Westlake, Pico Union, and portions of West Adams and Koreatown.
On one side of the ballot, you have Jose Gardea who has spent nearly all his life in Council District 1 and worked as the Chief of Staff for Ed Reyes for the last 10 years. (To say he is familiar with CD1 is quite the understatement.) Gardea is endorsed by the LA Times, Eric Garcetti, Ed Reyes, Jimmy Gomez, and Highland Park’s other councilmember, Jose Huizar among others. On the other side is Gil Cedillo, who has represented the heavily Latino 46th California Assembly District, later the 45th Assembly District, and the 22nd California Senate District for a combined total of 14 years before being forced out by term limits. Cedillo is endorsed by Governor Brown, Mayor Villaraigosa, and essentially every Who’s-who of the California Democratic Party. (Interesting to note he also claims to be endorsed by Eric Garcetti, but is not.)
Gil Cedillo has done a lot for California. He is among the top five Latino politicians in the state. No legislator has fought more for immigrant rights in this state than him. His greatest achievement is authoring the California DREAM Act for undocumented students of California. He has stood with union workers and championed the core Democratic causes. And yet, in this race, in this district, he represents the Right Wing of the two candidates. He is actually the most conservative candidate this area has seen since Sam Yorty prodigy, Art Synder ran the adjacent District 14. He is for Big Business, heavily supported by Chevron and the billboard industry (as if you haven’t noticed). He wants to build a Walmart in Chinatown. He is also THAT GUY, who for reasons most of Northeast Los Angeles, Pasadena, and South Pasadena can’t understand, keeps voting to spend millions and millions of dollars on trying to extend the failed Interstate 710 Freeway by any means necessary.
Cedillo likes to ask people when he meets them if they need a job. Which is a pretty clever way of getting people’s attention. That has been his focus for his CD1 Campaign: Jobs. How the Reyes administration hasn’t created jobs, how he will create jobs, how it is all about jobs. Because we all want a job, don’t we? The problem is, his approach to job creation is about empowering his corporate donors, rather than empowering the people of Council District 1. When I think about what the a city councilmember can do for their district, I think about how they can make our city safer, how they can improve transportation, how they can enhance our neighborhoods, how they can effectively provide a high standard of city services.
If you want to understand what a candidate’s campaign is really about, all you have to do is follow the money. When looking at who is contributing to who, one soon realizes this election is being bought by outsiders. Simply look at the zip codes and amounts being contributed to the different candidates: 38 people in 90042 contributed to Gardea, compared to Cedillo who received funding from only seven. (And that is with his campaign headquarters being located here.) On Cedillo’s donor list, you are more likely to find contributors outside Los Angeles (Beverly Hills, Sacramento, New York, etc…) while Gardea’s contributor list is made up almost entirely by individual donors who reside in the district he serves. This election comes down to promoting the man who has done the day-to-day administration for this district for over ten years to the elected position of City Council; verses electing a seasoned Sacramento politician who needs the job with its $178,789 annual salary. (Highest city council salary in the nation.)
The City Council is all about the myriad of day-to-day little things that make a big difference. It is about administrating the city resources effectively and providing the services constituents need. It is about adding value to the quality of life in our fair city. Our city is about abandoned couches, dead opossums, graffiti, housing, health services, dogs and cats, sanitation, utilities, small business development, parks and recreation, public transportation, public safety, police and fire service, building codes, historic preservation, community redevelopment, neighborhood empowerment, urban planning, roads, sidewalks, street trees, arts and culture, libraries, museums, street lights and parking. There is only one candidate that is well-versed in all those departments, one candidate who has made his career to serve the city, and has worked with all of these Los Angeles interests to make our city a better place.
Today there is only one good choice for Council District 1: Jose Gardea.