L.A.’s Foremost Transit/Livability Champion Mike Bonin Will Not Seek Re-Election
Last evening, L.A. City Councilmember Mike Bonin announced that, despite surviving the second attempt to recall him and a re-election campaign that was racking up endorsements and funds, he would not be seeking re-election in 2022. Bonin is serving his second term in office but was expected to face a difficult re-election with a pair of strong candidates, Traci Park and Allison Polhill, already announced. A third candidate, Greg Good, is expected to announce before the filing deadline this weekend.
In a video posted last night, Bonin talked about his personal mental health, the toll that being an elected official has on his family, and the coarsening and nastiness of politics at the local and national level as the reasons behind his decision.
There’s plenty that’s been said on social media and in the press about both Bonin and the future of Council District 11. Bonin has been a critical piece of the city’s transportation politics for over a decade as the chief of staff for City Council Transportation Committee Chair Bill Rosendahl before ascending to that chairmanship when he was elected to office. In addition, Bonin has been a member of the Metro Board of Directors and even briefly chaired the Expo Construction Authority while the E Line was being built.
He has also been a leader on police reform, government transparency, decriminalizing homelessness, and building short- and long-term housing in his district.
Sometimes these positions would make a difference citywide and even countywide; but would be loudly decried by more conservative elements in his own district. Bonin – more than pretty much any other Southern California elected official – consistently prioritized support for the most vulnerable among us, including people without homes, bus riders, essential workers, people on foot and bike. And Bonin brought those convictions to his own district.
Today, I again voted against an ordinance that will make it harder to be homeless in LA by greatly limiting the areas where people who are unhoused can sit, lie, or sleep.
I was one of two dissenting votes. Here's why I oppose this version of LA Municipal Code 41.18:
— Mike Bonin (@mikebonin) July 29, 2021
Much has been written, some of it here, about the Councilmember’s efforts to improve the lives of people experiencing homelessness in his home district, but I wanted to take a moment to share a story about how the Councilmember left a mark in my neighborhood as we grappled with unsafe local streets near our local elementary school.
Bonin left his mark in the Mar Vista community where both his family and my family reside. The Great Streets Project on Venice Boulevard may have generated the most headlines but, with the help of Bonin’s office, we were able to make improvements around my kids’ public school located well north of Venice Blvd. What started as a campaign to reduce speeding cut-through traffic became a coordinated campaign to make our neighborhood one of the safest to walk or bicycle in the city.
In just the last five years, our neighborhood has seen a new stop sign on our most dangerous street, a dozen new ADA accessible curb cuts and crosswalks installed, a change in street cleaning so it doesn’t coincide with Monday morning school assemblies and the installation of the Slow Streets program. After the local neighborhood association refused to help a group of residents that was asking for speed bumps and a safer crossing of Barrington Boulevard; the Councilmember showed up to walk the route. Over the next few years, their street received stop signs and sidewalks (for the first time!) and a retimed traffic light during the time when children would need to cross Barrington to get to school.
It’s not every Councilmember that gets involved in the small details, and certainly not one that does so humbly, and it’s certainly not one that will knowingly take votes and positions that upset affluent members of their home district.
Thank you for everything you have given the city & people of Los Angeles.
I admire you, your values, and the work you’ve done with community.
I’m so grateful for you and the love you have shown our city @mikebonin
I look forward to continuing to build with you for the ppl!
— Eunisses (@EunissesH) January 27, 2022
There’s a new crop of exciting, young, progressive reformers running for office in the city of Los Angeles, many of whom bemoaned Bonin stepping back yesterday. Hopefully his legacy will live on through them, and the voices speaking out for the most vulnerable members of our community aren’t so lonely on the council dais.