Endorsement: Dulce Vasquez for Los Angeles City Council District 9
In a closely watched race, voters in Los Angeles Council District 9 will decide whether to give Councilman Curren Price a third term or replace him with a newcomer to city politics.
Price, whose time in elected office goes back to the 1990s, when he was on the Inglewood City Council, has for the last eight years represented this densely populated district that covers a swath of South L.A., including Exposition Park and USC, and extends into a portion of downtown that includes Crypto.com Arena and the L.A. Live complex. He’s being challenged by Dulce Vasquez, a civic-minded university administrator who has mounted an energetic campaign to unseat him in her first run for elected office.
The two candidates aren’t far apart on key issues, including steps to address homelessness and housing, help immigrant communities, reimagine public safety and pursue racial and economic justice. But when it comes to who will drive meaningful change in city government and do more to improve the lives of regular people in this working-class district, we think Vasquez is the better choice.
Vasquez is a formerly undocumented immigrant from Mexico who was brought to the U.S. by her parents at age 7, grew up in Florida and moved to L.A. in 2008 after graduating from Northwestern University. She spent years working on civic engagement as managing director for Zócalo Public Square, an events and journalism nonprofit, and most recently in education as director of strategic partnerships for Arizona State University in Los Angeles.
Vasquez said she has seen the city “in a gradual decline” in recent years and decided to run for office after the COVID-19 pandemic “shifted my entire mindset” by showing how government should provide direct assistance to residents struggling with food and housing insecurity and poverty. She understands that Angelenos are calling for systemic change to address urgent problems, and that her district is ground zero for many of them.
The 9th District has high rates of poverty, a high proportion of foreign-born residents and is made up primarily of renters, including many living in overcrowded housing. The area was hit hard by the pandemic, and its population is especially vulnerable to being priced out of housing by the undersupply of affordable units. It has many people living in RVs and encampments, with a homeless population that is second only to the district containing skid row. Although it is L.A.’s most heavily Latino council district, at more than 78%, it has not had a Latino council member in decades.
Vasquez offers a clear and pragmatic vision for making L.A. city government work better for working-class people and for immigrants like her father, a construction worker, and her mother, who cleans houses, and she promises a hard-driving, no-nonsense approach focused on getting things done with urgency and transparency. Her policy priorities are increasing the supply of housing, improving public transportation and mobility, and boosting assistance for small businesses. She supports removing obstacles to all types of housing development, while supporting policies to protect existing tenants from displacement. And she wants to end the long-standing practice of deferring to individual council members and giving them authority over development decisions within their district.
But it’s her focus on improving the responsiveness of city government that stands out. Vasquez says her No. 1 priority will be improving constituent services, and that she will use a proactive, customer-service-like approach to ensure residents’ problems are swiftly addressed.
Vasquez has supported progressive causes, including the movement to defund the police (though her position now is that the LAPD doesn’t need any more officers), but she is overall more moderate and business-aligned than some of the other left-leaning candidates going after City Council incumbents this year.
Price pitches himself as a true progressive and a coalition builder who is backed by an array of elected officials, organized labor and community organizations. He points to his work on increasing the minimum wage, piloting a guaranteed basic income program to provide residents monthly stipends with no strings attached, and sponsoring ban-the-box, which prohibits employers from asking about past convictions before extending job offers. He touts billions in private investment in the Exposition Park area, including big projects like Banc of California Stadium and the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, which is under construction. But he has at times been too accommodating to developers and has not pushed hard enough to ensure that projects are truly benefiting the community.
Price said the election is “a referendum on things we’ve done in the past” and seems content to offer four more years of that same approach. But in a year in which Angelenos are demanding results on longstanding problems, incumbents faced with strong challengers like Vasquez must make a clear case that they will do better. In this case, Vasquez wins out with her promise to shake up the status quo and deliver real change. Voters should choose her.
Read more endorsements at: latimes.com/endorsements.
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