The new Los Angeles City Council members have taken their seats, elected their leader and — and promptly left for their summer recess. They won't be back until July 19.
And that's fine. The council won't be at full strength anyway until after July 23, when residents of the central San Fernando Valley's 6th District choose between candidates Cindy Montañez and Nuri Martinez.
Both are strong candidates, having previous experience in government affairs as City Council members and mayors in the city of San Fernando. Montañez, in addition, served four years in the Assembly. Martinez just finished a term on the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education.
The Times has endorsed Montañez for her vast knowledge of the inner workings of government. She knows the Department of Water and Power inside and out, she knows transportation and environmental issues, and she knows politics. We are counting on her, if she is elected, to put that knowledge and experience to work making the quality of life better for her central Valley constituents — keeping city services reliable and making them easier to access, starting with public safety.
But it goes beyond that; the council member must be her constituents' chief advocate when dealing with all the nuisances and headaches that involve City Hall, from traffic and parking to trash pickup, graffiti abatement, city permitting and dispute settlement.
And that's the easy part. The people of the 6th District need and deserve someone who will make sure that Lake Balboa, Van Nuys, Panorama City and the portions of North Hollywood, Sun Valley, Pacoima and Arleta that are in the district get their share of city services. But their representative must balance that stewardship with the duty to be a responsible lawmaker and advocate on citywide concerns. There must be development, to keep the district thriving and the wealth flowing, but projects must be integrated with the communities already there and not provide more of those things that, quite frankly, the district already has enough of — blocky eyesores, choking traffic, more noise and trash in some neighborhoods than should be tolerated.