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Spelling Out the Priorities in the 7th District City Council Race : The pain and fear in the community must end. Change must be rooted in the needs of northeast Valley residents, not in special interests.

May 30, 1993|RICHARD ALARCON | Richard Alarcon, on leave as Valley-area coordinator for the mayor of Los Angeles, is a candidate for the City Council in the 7th District

Let me tell you a story.

It was June, 1991. My son, Armando, was ready to graduate from Polytechnic High School in Sun Valley. Our family was excited. My son was carrying on a family tradition of being raised and schooled in the northeast San Fernando Valley. I had graduated from Polytechnic 20 years earlier. Needless to say, I had been coming home to a lot of happy afternoons.

This afternoon was different.

Armando is a sturdy young man, not shaken easily. But I found him visibly disturbed. A 17-year-old schoolmate and friend had been shot to death. He was the victim of a drive-by shooting.

The story of my son's friend is tragic. But it's not unfamiliar in the northeast Valley. Like other areas of Los Angeles, our community is living with the harsh reality of urban decay, gangs and graffiti, loss of jobs, a crumbling infrastructure, failing schools and, yes, drive-by shootings.

So I take on this challenge of getting elected to the Los Angeles City Council with one clear desire: I want the pain and fear in my community to end.

I have worked in service to my community since I was 15. I've always hoped that state, federal or even city government would help fix our neglected neighborhoods. I know now that government can't solve our problems. The only way is for local communities to take control of their own destiny. My campaign is built around the premise of local control. To have real local control, we must have a City Council member who is willing to fight for it. That representative's plan for action and change must be rooted in the needs of the northeast Valley and not special interests.

Let me share a few of my ideas.

The northeast Valley has traditionally been ignored by the downtown crowd. So my first act as our councilman would be to create a Community Advisory Group made up of local business people, educators, church leaders and service providers. Its sole responsibility would be to begin marketing the northeast Valley as a good place to live and do business. If the downtown bureaucrats won't work to help bring good jobs with good wages to the northeast Valley, we'll do it ourselves.

Second, to market our community we must first put an end to crime. I know the city bureaucracy is dying in its waste and duplication. I propose shifting people in unnecessary clerical and technical jobs to police substations.

This would accomplish two important objectives. One, it would make city government more flexible, more efficient and less costly. Second, it would take sworn police officers from behind desks and put them on the streets where they're desperately needed. It will not raise taxes or take jobs from people.

Our Valley schools should also have local control. I favor whatever plan will bring it. As a parent, former teacher and advisory council president, I've worked hard to take back our schools from the unresponsive Los Angeles Unified School District bureaucracy.

Three years ago I meet with a group of local educators, teachers and parents from Vaughn Street Elementary School in Pacoima. They expressed their desire to run their schools without the constraints of a top-heavy bureaucracy. Together we worked out a plan to improve standards and curriculum. The plan is rooted in the needs of the local community; parents have the power to make decisions on curriculum, special projects, and school spending. Today, Vaughn Street is a model for local school control in the Valley. Parents, teachers and administrators run their school with the needs of the local community being the first priority.

I often wonder how and when the pain and fear in my community will end. I often wonder when the tragedies, like that of my son's friend, will stop. I always come to the same conclusion: When the northeast Valley takes control of its own destiny, the jobs will return, City Hall will pay attention to our needs, crime and gang violence will go away.

If we allow the Westside political machine to take over our district, we have failed our neighborhoods. I, for one, refuse to let that happen. So I pledge, as a leader in this community, that I will work, motivated by the love that I have for the northeast Valley, to make sure our community begins to control its own destiny.

So a vote for Richard Alarcon on June 8 is a vote for the northeast Valley--and to end the fear and pain of our community.

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