With termed-out City Councilwoman Laura Chick running for city controller, six candidates are vying to represent the southwest San Fernando Valley in a wide-open race for her 3rd District seat. What sets Encino resident Judith Hirshberg apart is not only the depth of her experience in the Valley--she ran the Valley office of former City Councilman Marvin Braude and worked in the Valley office of the late Mayor Tom Bradley--but the breadth of her vision for Los Angeles. The Times endorses Hirshberg in the April 10 primary.
Hirshberg knows the district and its needs, from working-class neighborhoods in Van Nuys, Reseda and Canoga Park to the well-heeled suburban neighborhoods that, out on the city's western edge, see themselves as off City Hall's radar. The 17-year district resident is a veteran volunteer, active on community boards and commissions such as the Mid Valley Community Police Council and the Neighborhood Proposition K Oversight Committee. Accustomed to being involved, Hirshberg means it when she says she would welcome input from neighborhood councils.
Her opponents also have experience working behind the scenes in city government and with community groups. Tsilah Burman was an aide to Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky when he was on the City Council. Francine Oschin is deputy to 12th District City Councilman Hal Bernson. Police union director Dennis Zine was a member of the elected Charter Reform Commission. Like candidates citywide, they share Hirshberg's commitment to improving city services and finding solutions to traffic and other long-vexing problems.
But Hirshberg best expresses a big-picture view of the city's problems--and promise. Hirshberg doesn't waste time grandstanding on issues the City Council doesn't control, such as breaking up the Los Angeles Unified School District, a priority for Oschin. Instead, she focuses on what the city can do, such as after-school enrichment, sports and cultural programs. She even has the courage to express enthusiasm for living in Los Angeles, unheard of among candidates courting the votes of Valley secessionists. "Los Angeles is a world-class city," she says. "We have world-class things going on here--universities, hospitals, symphonies. I want to be a part of that."
Her experience and independence, combined with a welcome sense of humor, signal an ability to forge the alliances needed to get things done for her district and for the city.