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ELECTION RECOMMENDATION

Ludlow for City Council

May 14, 2003

In the city's March primary, voters narrowed the six-man race to replace termed-out Los Angeles City Councilman Nate Holden to Deron Williams, a longtime Holden aide, and Martin Ludlow, a former legislative deputy. Ludlow is the better choice to give the neglected 10th Council District -- which includes South Robertson, Wilshire Center, West Adams, Koreatown, Pico-Fairfax and the Crenshaw area -- a much-needed new voice.

Ludlow has energy and ideas for a district that under Holden has been short of both. He wants to improve police-community relations in neighborhoods bloodied by gang violence and to bring new businesses to an area where fast-food joints crowd out family restaurants and decent jobs are scarce. His experience includes running the Southern California offices of two state Assembly speakers, one of whom, Antonio Villaraigosa, won election to the council in March.

Before the primary, Williams' biggest challenge -- at least to those who aren't fans of his boss' brand of patronage politics -- was to prove he was not another Holden, for whom he has worked his entire adult life. But since March, Williams has picked up a new handicap: himself. His problem was not the 1988 felony cocaine conviction that came to light during the campaign but the way he utterly mishandled it.

What could have been an inspiring story of a young man with a troubled background who turned his life around instead became an embarrassing succession of stories in which Williams lied about the circumstances of his arrest, denied he had served jail time and finally just declared it was too painful to talk about.

He stonewalled again when The Times uncovered campaign donations made out to a church group headed by his cousin in what looks like a ploy to dodge legal contribution limits. Williams' lack of straight answers raises too many questions about his honesty and his ability to deal with the pressures of office.

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