Two newly elected members of the Los Angeles City Council got a head start on their official duties Saturday during swearing-in ceremonies in their districts and a community cleanup event in El Sereno.
Although they formally take office Tuesday, Councilmen-elect Martin Ludlow, who will represent the 10th District that includes Koreatown and the Crenshaw district, and Antonio Villaraigosa, of the 14th District that takes in the Eastside, spent the day setting the tone for their upcoming terms.
Villaraigosa, who was sworn in at La Placita Church in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday evening, had spent the day working alongside residents from his district in a neighborhood cleanup campaign, stressing the theme of community involvement.
Ludlow was sworn in before a large crowd at Rancho Cienega Park and then in an animated speech promoted his activist agenda, which includes the curbing of gang violence and the construction of a mini-City Hall in the Crenshaw district.
As a recording of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On?” was piped over the field, City Council members Janice Hahn, Bernard C. Parks, Wendy Greuel, Eric Garcetti, Tom LaBonge and Cindy Miscikowski took their seats, along with Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and Supervisors Yvonne Brathwaite Burke and Zev Yaroslavsky.
Also in the crowd were Councilman Nate Holden, the term-limited member Ludlow is replacing, and Assemblyman Mark Ridley-Thomas, a former 8th District councilman.
Mayor James K. Hahn introduced Ludlow, praising his drive and passion.
“Martin doesn’t want to go along for the ride,” Hahn said. “He wants to drive and take us to a new place.”
After being sworn in by his mother, Anne Ludlow, and Ethel Bradley, the widow of former Mayor Tom Bradley, Ludlow asked the crowd to stand in honor of 16 years of work by Holden.
But in a speech dedicated to the memory of his late father, an activist minister and sugar-beet picker from Idaho, Ludlow made it clear that he has a different vision from that of Holden, who has been criticized for his liberal granting of liquor licenses in Koreatown.
“I will refuse to approve a single new liquor license in this community,” Ludlow said, to sustained applause. Until the district has more “quality family restaurants,” he added, there will be “no approval for the construction of one more Jack in the Box or Burger King.”
At El Sereno Elementary School, Villaraigosa stopped to give a brief speech to constituents volunteering in the “Neighborhoods That Work” program.
Villaraigosa, wearing jeans and a polo shirt, praised residents from El Sereno, Eagle Rock, Highland Park and Boyle Heights who fanned out into streets and alleys to remove debris and graffiti and plant trees.
“This is about people making a difference,” Villaraigosa said to about 100 people, mostly school-age children, gathered at the school.
A few minutes later as he stood next to group of children daubing paint on a mural, his brow beaded with sweat, Villaraigosa said community involvement would be the theme of his inauguration speech.
“I don’t start till July 1, but we wanted to begin with something like this, not just with a big party,” he said. Then Villaraigosa was off. “I didn’t come here to speak; I came to work.”
Community residents said they had high expectations for their new representatives.
Narvalee Copelin, who has lived in the 10th District since the 1960s, complimented Ludlow for holding the event in the Crenshaw district and “not downtown someplace,” but had a pointed suggestion.
"[Ludlow] needs to try to do something about the gang activity before it gets worse,” she said.
At Villaraigosa’s event, 51-year El Sereno resident Norma Conte said she appreciated the cleanup campaign, but complained about parking problems and broken sidewalks on Stockbridge Street, where she lives.
“I think this is fine; I just hope he keeps it up,” Conte said. “He’s got a lot of work to do in El Sereno.”