There is a special election on May 21st for the vacant seat in the City Council of the City of Los Angeles, District #6.
In January 2010 my wife and I were fortunate enough to buy our first home together in Van Nuys. It was a mess and needed a lot of work. It actually took our entire savings just to make it livable, but we took time off from work and spent two months rehabbing it until it was our perfect little home.
Then, as soon as we moved in, we noticed the first signs of the prevalent crime in the community. Most of the crime centered around the apartment building and seedy motel at the end of the street right at Sepulveda Blvd., but it regularly spilled into the neighborhood.
After seeing various crimes happen right before my eyes, some during the day but most at night, I decided that something had to be done and as a former Army Sergeant I knew what we needed was a security patrol so I volunteered and began patrolling the neighborhood nightly.
It didn’t take long before I had a confrontation with a drug dealer and noticed crime spiking. I kept at it and found myself involved in many dangerous situations and all I had was a flashlight to defend myself!
I did call police nearly every time, but it was a non-emergency as far as they were concerned so most of the time it was up to me to document the crime with my little video camera, verbally ask the criminals to leave the community and generally make it difficult for them to victimize the neighborhood by literally shinning a light on the problem with my flashlight.
Then, after being threatened with violence, I took it to the next level and contacted my City Councilman and requested additional street lights, speed bumps and increased police patrols but I was met with an explanation of “we don’t have it in the budget.”
It took numerous calls to the City Councilman’s office, emails to news media and calls to the Van Nuys Police Department before relief finally reached the community.
The first thing to happen was the installation of a street light and an increased police presence. There was even a sting operation but the reduction in criminal activity was short-lived and when I inquired about more Police Vice Squad I was informed that the Vice Squad had been cut back due to budget constraints.
To further aggravate the situation, a program called “realignment” was put in place to release inmates deemed “non-violent” due to state and city budget cuts. And while crime was down citywide in general, valley crime spiked because many of the newly released parolees went on a crime spree. More than 3,000 burglaries and 5,000 vehicle break-ins occurred, much of it a result of “realignment.”
That’s when I began studying up on city politics and learned of a systematic failure by City Hall to protect the communities most in need and to provide the necessary infrastructure to deter crime.
I had fully expected to keep my job at a nearby Television Studio until retirement, but after a long talk with my wife we decided that it was worth the risk to run for City Council so that our son could have a safe neighborhood and so our neighbors could have honest and ethical representation in the City Council, something that has been missing for a very long time!