The race for the 9th District City Council seat pits state Sen. Curren Price (D-Los Angeles), a veteran African American politician, against Ana Cubas, a youthful Latina seeking her first elected office. Their biographies and backgrounds present a stark contrast; their campaign platforms do not. Both have promised to bring more city services to the blighted 9th, clean up the commercial corridors, attract investment and create jobs. Sadly, neither has offered a detailed, credible plan to accomplish these objectives. But Price's experience and connections give voters more reason to believe he can move the district in the right direction.
The 9th covers a narrow, densely populated stretch of the city that runs directly south from downtown, with offshoots extending to Staples Center and USC's main campus. Outside those two islands of prosperity, the district is rife with problems and short on resources to solve them. It has the highest poverty rate and the lowest median income of any council district; unemployment is high and business activity is low; and it has the city's highest percentage of high school dropouts, with comparatively few nonprofits on hand to provide services.
The Times passed over Cubas and Price in its initial endorsement because neither had offered much in the way of concrete plans. They have since outlined many more ideas for revitalizing the district; for example, Cubas wants to bring biomedical and clean tech companies into the 9th's commercial districts, and Price seeks to boost vocational and industrial-arts training to prepare more residents for the building trades and public works. Both candidates say they'd consider installing surveillance cameras in alleys to catch trash dumpers — Cubas even suggests gating the alleys.
Considering the city's fiscal troubles, however, it's unrealistic to think that either Cubas or Price will be able to conjure up millions of tax dollars for the district. Instead, he or she will have to come up with creative ways to attract money and volunteers from the private and nonprofit sectors, and to inspire constituents to fight for the services they so desperately need.
Neither comes across as a galvanizing figure, but Price's experience as a councilman in Inglewood, a state legislator and a small businessman, suggest that he's better prepared for the enormous challenges that the 9th presents. He is strongly supported by advocates of small businesses, which are the district's lifeblood. Although Cubas has an appealing personal story, she hasn't made the case that she'll be able to implement her ideas. Price has a reputation for pragmatism and has shown he can work with others to get things done. Voters of the 9th should give Price the chance to show what he can accomplish.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times