A Primer on L.A. Politics

By Adonia Burciaga

ELAC’s Political faculty gathered to discuss the biggest challenges in Los Angeles and the complex political structure. 

The event was moderated by ELAC students for the Political Awareness and Advocacy club, Ozzie Lopez, Associate Professor of Political Science shared that there is a huge difference between Los Angeles County and the City of Los Angeles.

The County of Los Angeles covers a significantly larger jurisdiction. The city of Los Angeles is one city in a metropolitan or a government municipality within a larger jurisdiction. The count of 88 small municipalities, so 88 different small governments.

Los Angeles County in itself has over 10 million county residents that are under the auspices of their umbrella and the city of Los Angeles happens to be one of those. The city of Los Angeles is the fourth largest city in the world.

Kelly Velasquez,  Associate Professor of Political Science, also shared that there is different community protection, every city has its own police department and the county shares department.

City councils and neighborhood councils have a major difference as well. The city of Los Angeles has a department called the Neighborhood Empowerment. It provides stakeholders in various communities across the city of Los Angeles with an opportunity to be actively engaged and actively involved in city government.

Professor Lopez said that anyone could participate in the Neighborhood Councils regardless of where they live in the community. They are investing their time, energy and effort into a community. 

Rogelio Garcia, Associate Professor of Political Science, said that currently, Los Angeles has the highest ratio of any city in the United States in terms of representation. 

“There is the issue of gentrification where you have the community residents that are seeing their communities transformed. They are working there but not living there and they are making decisions on how the community should best move forward” said Lopez.

In Los Angeles, there are also key elections that the faculty shared that residents should look out for. Dr. Kenneth Chairprasert, Associated and Vice-Chair of Political Science, said that we have our primary election, if a candidate wins over fifty percent of the vote in a local election they will not need to have a run-off election in November. 

There are also seven candidates running for Los Angeles City attorney, which is a very important position. The city attorney is responsible for advising the city of Los Angeles with legal issues in any lawsuit and prosecution.

There are local political developments that residents should be looking out for aswell such as homelessness. 

Professor Garcia said that we should look at what candidates’ plans are on how to deal with homelessness. There is also a high cost of living in Los Angeles which is something that we need to see how our city and county will address that issue. 

Dr. Chairprasert hopes that students will become more actively engaged in what is happening in their city and county. Residents could also take advantage of programs available to them such as rental assistance and food distributions throughout the city. Students at ELAC could also reach out to Professor Velasquez if they are interested in joining ESPAA. velasqkm@elac.edu

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