Sanders to Run for Holden Council Seat
J. Stanley Sanders, a Watts-born Rhodes Scholar who played a key role in Mayor Richard Riordan’s 1993 election victory, Wednesday kicked off his campaign to unseat Los Angeles City Councilman Nate Holden by calling the incumbent an “embarrassment.”
At a news conference at his home Wednesday, the 52-year-old Sanders accused Holden of “abandoning his district” by taking up residency three years ago in a Marina del Rey condominium. Holden’s 10th District includes the Crenshaw area and much of Koreatown.
“When we faced the deadly decay of our district,” Sanders said, Holden “ran away to the beach to live in a condo with a 24-hour security guard. I will not run away because I believe in facing problems head-on.”
Sanders also contended that sexual harassment allegations against Holden by several women who formerly worked for him have limited the councilman’s effectiveness. Sanders said women with business at City Hall are afraid to be in Holden’s company.
Holden, 65, who is seeking his third term, scoffed at Sanders’ accusations and warned that a mudslinging campaign will backfire on the challenger.
“Mud sticks on those who throw it,” Holden said.
Holden maintained that Sanders wants a City Council seat only as a steppingstone to higher office.
“He’s got blind ambition,” Holden said, noting that Sanders ran for mayor in 1993 and later entertained the notion of running for state superintendent of public instruction.
Holden also ran for mayor in 1993 and received slightly fewer votes than Sanders in the primary election.
Sanders said he will not be endorsed by Mayor Richard Riordan or former mayor Tom Bradley because they have vowed to remain neutral in the race. Riordan and Bradley have been instrumental in establishing Sanders’ City Hall credentials. Under Bradley, Sanders was president of the city’s Recreation and Parks Commission.
Sanders received 4% of the vote and came in sixth in the mayoral primary. Later, he agreed to endorse Riordan in his general election faceoff with then-Councilman Michael Woo. The endorsement by Sanders, an African American, was widely viewed as important to Riordan’s efforts to soften his image as a Republican businessman.
Subsequently, Riordan appointed Sanders to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board. The mayor asked Sanders to step down from that position last week after he decided to run for the council post.
Sanders said he will make it a top priority, if elected, to devote more city resources to helping troubled young people between 16 and 22 years old. People in that age group commit many of the crimes in the city, he said, and need job training and better educational and recreational opportunities.
Sanders said he supports the Riordan Administration’s efforts to hire 3,000 additional police officers, but also wants a new city commitment to crime prevention through social programs.
“What I’m saying is we need leadership in both these areas,” he said.
Sanders said he does not know if Riordan has an economic redevelopment plan for South-Central Los Angeles. “I quite honestly don’t know what his plans are,” he said.
Wednesday was the first day for candidates to officially declare their intention to run for the seven Los Angeles City Council seats on the ballot this spring.
Sanders was born in Watts and graduated from Jordan High School. He went to Whittier College where he become an All-American football player. In 1963, he received a Rhodes scholarship to study at Oxford University, becoming one of the first African Americans to be so honored. He later earned a law degree at Yale.