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TIMES ENDORSEMENT

Jan Perry for Council District 9

March 18, 2001

It is a district of stark contrasts: gleaming downtown skyscrapers and dramatic architecture not far from some of the oldest and most neglected housing stock in the city. The 9th Council District needs a council member who can bring those two worlds together effectively. The candidate best suited to do that is Jan Perry.

The central city district, which runs south from the Civic Center through a large swath of South-Central, has been represented for the last 10 years by Councilwoman Rita Walters. She is leaving office due to term limits, and several candidates are lined up to succeed her in the April 10 election.

Ted Hayes, a longtime homeless advocate, wants to keep the spotlight on improving the district's most desperately poor area, skid row. Hayes has a role to play but is clearly too limited in focus.

Woody Fleming, pointing to many years as a local union activist and an aide to Walters and more recently as a member of the elected charter reform commission and the Public Works Commission, says he should be elected because he has "paid my dues." Fleming has called for a meeting of experts to discuss how to bring jobs and development to the district south of the Santa Monica Freeway. In a public forum, Fleming attacked Perry for being "married to a white man." He later said he misspoke, saying he merely "meant to say she was married to a wealthy lawyer." We think it's safe to say he's not the bridge builder the district needs.

Carl Washington has a long list of endorsements based on relationships formed in his four years in the Assembly representing Compton, Paramount and a portion of South-Central and earlier when he was an aide to Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke. He sponsored a good anti-violence bill and is a reliable supporter, though usually not a leader, of the progressive legislative agenda. He is viewed in Sacramento as an affable but not terribly astute assemblyman.

In 1997 Washington said he voted for a tobacco bill not because he believed in it but because he wanted the author of the legislation to vote for a Washington bill; while many legislators may do that, the comment could have been viewed as an admission of vote-trading, which is illegal. After a more experienced Democratic leader pulled him aside, Washington said he didn't mean to suggest he traded votes. Washington says he has grown in the job since then. He well may have. But is he the best City Council candidate the district has to offer?

That distinction goes to Perry, who has worked as an aide to council members Walters and Nate Holden and former Councilman Michael Woo. She was in charge of the city's Census Outreach program and also has a substantial list of endorsements. More important, Perry has the skills to represent the full 9th District. She has creative ideas about reusing strip malls for after-school programs, finding ways to bring greenery into old and neglected neighborhoods and working with business interests to spread downtown economic revitalization to benefit the larger district. The Times endorses Jan Perry for City Council in the 9th District.

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