Joan Milke Flores wanted to be elected president of the Los Angeles City Council, but she said in an interview before her defeat Wednesday that she had second thoughts about the job.
"Even though I wanted to be president, in the back of my mind I was so worried that my day in the district would suffer," said Flores, who spends each Thursday visiting constituents in San Pedro, Wilmington, Harbor City, Harbor Gateway and Watts.
"The president has a lot of extra duties and a lot of places to go to represent the council," Flores said Tuesday afternoon, shortly after it became clear that she could muster only seven of the eight votes needed to win. "There is a certain amount of prestige and power with the job, but other things have to suffer."
Flores threw her support behind Councilman John Ferraro, who was unanimously elected president of the 15-member council. Flores, president pro tempore since 1983, did not seek reelection to that post, which went to Councilman Ernani Bernardi.
Several residents in Flores' district welcomed her defeat, saying they feared that as council president she would be too busy with city politics to pay attention to their problems.
"I think she ought to stay where she is and help out Wilmington as much as she can," said Gertrude Schwab, a lifetime resident of Wilmington. "She seems to be finally recognizing that she has to deal with the people here, and now she will be able to devote more time to us and our problems."
Olivia Cueva Fernandez, who is active in the Wilmington Home Owners organization, said the presidency might have given Flores the clout to better serve her district. But, she said, Flores will now have more time for local issues.
"It is a very large district for one person to handle," Fernandez said. "She needs all of her time to concentrate on it. Personally, I would split the district into two or three districts."
In San Pedro, Noah Modisett, president of a coalition of homeowner groups representing about 6,000 households, said he supported Flores' bid for the presidency but said her defeat will have little effect on the community.
"The presidency of the council affects the internal workings of the council, especially in terms of committee appointments," Modisett said. "It is important to the council members but probably not as immediately visible and important to the average citizen."
Flores said she informed Ferraro that she would like to remain on the Industry and Economic Development Committee, which oversees issues involving the Port of Los Angeles. She also expressed interest in staying on her other two committees: Public Works, which deals with such things as street improvements, and Grants and Community Development, which funnels federal funds to needy areas.
Ferraro is expected to make the appointments in a few weeks.
"I think the committees that you sit on are really most important," Flores said. "I think I would make a good president, but then I might have another opportunity some day."