Over 300 SEIU members from across Southern Calif. attended three “One Voice” endorsement town halls, from Dec. 4-6, to hear from dozens of candidates in the upcoming March 2013 city elections. Six SEIU locals with members who live or work in the city participated: Local 721, Local 99, Local 1000, UHW, USWW and ULTCW.
The first town hall included candidates for LAUSD and LA Community College boards. The final two, held at SEIU 721, covered the races in the odd numbered city council districts, along with the citywide controller, city attorney and mayoral races. All the leading candidates in each race showed up, including the top contenders for mayor: Wendy Greuel, Eric Garcetti, Jan Perry and Kevin James.
It was a member-led process. Candidates gave opening and closing statements, but the real discussion came when representatives from each local questioned them on issues important to working families.
LA city sanitation worker and SEIU 721 Executive Board member Simboa Wright asked the mayoral candidates: “We’ve been facing layoffs for years and have given back $850 million in the last five years. Does your vision for the future of LA include more layoffs and balancing the budget on the backs of city workers? And will you keep the current CAO Miguel Santana if you win?”
All responded that they would try to avoid layoffs, but candidates Greuel and Garcetti also highlighted the importance of maintaining a strong city workforce, praising the work that 721 members do for the city each day. On the question of the CAO, Garcetti said he would, if elected, make appointed staff “reapply for their jobs.”
After questioning the candidates, members discussed the candidates’ answers and then came together to make a recommendation. The process will help SEIU speak with “One Voice” in the upcoming election.
“This was a great and very democratic process. I came to the town halls looking for answers on the issues that affect my work and my co-workers, like pensions and wages, and I was satisfied with what the candidates said. Public employees are too often treated like Public Enemy No. 1. We need elected officials to commit and fight for our interests.”
-Myran Cotton, City Hall parking attendant
Candidates who participated in the citywide town halls:
Mayor: Eric Garcetti, Wendy Greuel, Kevin James, Jan Perry and Emanuel Pleitez
City Attorney: Michael Feuer (represented by Rick Tuttle), Gregory Smith and Carmen Trutanich
City Controller: Cary Brazeman, Ron Galperin and Dennis Zine
City Council District 1: Gilbert Cedillo and Jose Gardea
CD 3: Elizabeth Badger, Bob Blumenfield and Joyce Pearson
CD 7: Felipe Fuentes
CD 9: Ana Cubas, Mike Davis, Ronald Gochez, Tarry Hara, Curren Price and David Roberts
CD 11: Mike Bonin
CD 13: John Choi, Alex Cruz De Ocampo, Ana Grande, Emile Mack, Robert Negrete, Mitch O’Farrell, Octavio Pescador, Josh Post, Jose Sigala and Matt Szabo