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2011 Election

A Transportation Look at a Contentious Race in CD14

8:21 AM PST on March 7, 2011

Martinez placed this billboard late last year, right in the heart of Broadway. Photo:## Downtown##

The race for the CD14 City Council seat has been a contentious one between two former friends.  The City Maven breaks down the relationship between the former friends that has led to a very personal campaign.

Huizar at the Boyle Heights Hotel Renovation Project. Photo: Jose Huizar/Flickr

We're not going to talk about that.  Incumbent Councilman Jose Huizar has a pretty long record on transportation issues and his opponent, Rudy Martinez, is known for a grassroots campaigning style and a starring role in a real-estate reality show.

Huizar has been a reliable voice for progressive transportation, but slow to come up with any exciting plans on his own.  Huizar, as Joe Linton wrote earlier this year, may have "proclaimed his support for Los Angeles overtaking Long Beach’s leadership in becoming a truly bike-friendly city," but I'm hard pressed to figure out what initiatives of his would make that happen.

His signature transportation issue has been support for "Bringing Broadway Back" planning, including the installation of a Streetcar.  Earlier this month, the Councilman wrote on his personal blog the results of a study on the economic impact of the streetcar proposal (emphasis his):

The study finds among other things that an initial $125 million public-private investment in returning the Streetcar Downtown will generate 9,300 new jobs, $1.1 billion in new development, $24.5 million in new annual tourism and consumer spending, and $47 million in new city revenue – all above projections for Downtown’s future without a streetcar.

The Gold Line Eastside Extension rumbles through the eastern wing of his district.  Community members, most vocally the Eastside Community Corporation, have complained that the people living near the line are learning how to deal with it, not using it.  It's great that the city and county are looking to address this issue, but providing community connections is something that really should have been looked at years ago.

Huizar has also been a member of the Metro Board of Directors for most of the past two years, replacing Councilman Bernard Parks as a one of Mayor Villaraigosa's appointments.  Huizar does miss meetings from time to time, and is replaced on the Metro Board for those meetings by Tom LaBonge, who faces a tough race of his own.  While he's pushed for Streetcar funding, his biggest accomplishment on the Metro Board has been to back Glendale Mayor Ara Najarian's crusade against the SR-710 Big Dig project.

Martinez has won points from community members and the Los Angeles Times for his door-to-door campaign style, but it's not easy to find out where he stands on specific issues.  His campaign website doesn't even really have a platform beyond knocking Huizar and promising to do better.

As for substance, Martinez is opposed to the Streetcar project, at least for now, because local businesses would be asked to help foot the bill.  While  you'd be hard pressed to find anything resembling a bicycle plan, he has "lectured audience members to get off their couches and walk or ride bicycles" in response to questions about "fixing" Los Angeles' traffic issues.

This concludes our election preview for 2011.  Check back on Wednesday for results, and what they could mean to the momentum progressive transportation has had in the last couple of years.

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