CD 10 Election Preview: Wesson Challenged by 5 Opponents, Some Focus on L.A.’s Streets

LA City Councilman Herb Wesson addresses over 100 attendees during the Rosa Parks Villas Ground Blessing ceremony held during the 52nd anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Photo: ##http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/MrjibGboGN-H6KFgF_0wcg##Michael Riddick/Picasa##

Unlike the other races we’ve covered thus far, Council District 10 has a group of candidates challenging the incumbent, the affable Herb Wesson.  Wesson hasn’t been regularly featured on Streetsblog as Krekorian, LaBonge and Parks.  However, he has been a major player in some of the large issues we’ve discussed because they happen to go directly through his South L.A. District.

The largest of those is the Expo Line.  Wesson sat on the Expo Construction Authority Board of Directors and pushed for the rapid completion of the project in opposition to many local community organizations who insisted on below-grade crossings for many of the major intersections.  No doubt Wesson wishes the light rail line were already up and running as it would boost his re-election chances, instead it may be an albatross.  Last Thursday evening, a Dorsey High School Honor Student was struck and killed by a driver who was trying to maneuver around the construction vehicles in front of the school as part of the construction.  An email sent out by the head of the Farmdale Homeowner’s Association can be found at the end of this story.

Wesson has also been supportive of the Wilshire Bus Only Lanes Proposal, which also passes through the 10th District.  While he hasn’t actively needled Bill Rosendahl for his support of a Westside exemption, he is considered to be in favor of a complete project.

Our first coverage of an issue involving Wesson was way back in 2007 during our days at Street Heat.  Wesson fought for, and earned, an exemption from the plans to speed up traffic for the Pico-Olympic Plan to speed up traffic for the 10th.  While the entire plan seems to be indefinitely on the shelf, Wessons’ early efforts to truncate the plan played a role in empowering the opposition, regardless of what Zev Yaroslavsky might think.

One of Wesson’s chief rivals is business executive and youth activist Austin Dragon.  In his platform, Dragon discusses the need to bulk up the bus system, limit new parking to areas that are parking scarce, fix the TAP system and improve traffic flow on major corridors.

Los Angeles needs to adopt a dynamic strategy that moves with the city and technologies to keep the city moving forward. There needs to be greater emphasis placed on the Bus System as they are the only true effective means of Public Transportation at this time. The buses should spread transportation networks from the main metro lines and utilize the TAP system for the Public. Parking garages need to be built in areas of the city that have scarce parking and complement with a good shuttle system where feasible. We must also work with the private sector to discuss issues like smart traffic signals for major corridors like Venice, Wilshire, Olympic, and Santa Monica.

Another contender is Andrew Kim, who promises to pursue federal grants to fix decaying streets, and works in a shot at Wesson for calling for more trash cans for city sidewalks.

For far too long has Los Angeles streets been in ruins, especially district 10. Our streets are filled with pot holes that DAMAGE OUR CARS, increases TRAFFIC, and causes SAFETY HAZARDS. The current incumbent has and continues to neglect this issue; instead we wants to put more trash can on our curbs. He has fallen out of touch with reality. It’s time for government to fix the problems that matter to their constituents. Once elected, I will address such issues and bring federal grants to fix our streets.

Also running are Chris Brown, who promises to clean up city hall, but doesn’t have a transportation plank for his campaign, Luis Montoya, who doesn’t have a website, and Althea Raw Shaw, another outsider running against the system and not on specific transportation issues.

Email from Carol Tucker of the Farmdale Homeowner’s Association:

On Thursday, February 10th 2011, a Dorsey High School honor student was fatally run over as her mother was trying to manuever out of traffic congestion caused by construction trucks parked in the area of the school.
The trucks were in the area as the Expo Construction Authority was beginning construction of the Farmdale Station.  The crossing at Farmdale has be adamantly objected to by residents and activist in the area as it was considered to be unsafe because it was too close to the school and in an area where students would be crossing as they walked to and from school.
There had been objections to any construction at Farmdale while school was in session but the Construction  Authority proceeded anyway with the consent of our local politician, Herb Wesson.
The  Farmdale crossing had initially been ruled unsafe by the California Public Utilities Commission but they later overruled their decision and approved a station at Farmdale.
This is the first fatality and the train has not begun to roll yet.  What’s next???   When are our elected officials going to stand-up for the right thing??
Carol Tucker, President
Baldwin Neighborhood Homeowners Association

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