LOS ANGELES — Koreatown activist and attorney Grace Yoo believes the 10th City Council District deserves fair representation and that is why she is fighting to unseat City Council President Herb J. Wesson Jr. in the March 3 election.
In 2012, the demand for fairness came during the redistricting process when Koreatown was placed in both the 10th and 13th Council Districts, represented by Wesson and then-Councilman Eric Garcetti, respectively, instead of placing it in one district as neighborhood leaders had requested.
In an interview with L.A. Weekly, Yoo recalled her sentiments during the redistricting process.
“I’m not saying the incumbent is not following the laws. I’m saying the incumbent is in need of listening to all of the residents. That’s what I want to do. I want to be an elected official that listens to the wishes of my constituents,” Yoo said.
But Yoo is not solely focusing on Koreatown, but the district as a whole. The self-described proud Angelena is a by-product of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Her experience in diversity outreach includes building coalitions through initiatives like the Korean-Latino Table Talks and Asian Jewish Initiative.
Councilman Bernard Parks, LAUSD school board member Monica Ratliff and county Supervisor Mike Antonovich are listed as endorsers on her campaign website.
In preparation of the March 3 election, Yoo participated in The Wave’s council profile for each candidate in the 10th District.
Name: Grace Yoo
Marital status/children: Single, never married.
Where do you live: Koreatown
Professional life: I served as both executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association in Washington, D.C., and the Korean American Coalition in Los Angeles. I was appointed by the Los Angeles County Superior Court to represent children in the Edelman Children’s Court. I also served as vice president of the city of Los Angeles Transportation Commission.
• Protecting and supporting neighborhoods.
• Creating great jobs for families.
• Making government work for all.
• Supporting small businesses
“Giving a voice to the various different communities requires first being able to communicate with them effectively,” she said. “I will focus on creating equal access to city services and this is important because it would foster different points of view. Thus far, the city has not made it a priority for residents to give their input. I believe when more residents are able to voice their opinions, we will have a much more engaged community and a better society.
“The single most important issue facing the city of Los Angeles today is also the most basic: the maintenance of our urban environment, such as potholes, street lights, uprooted sidewalks and unsightly alleyways. These are the resources that affect and are shared by all of us. According to the L.A. Times, 466 streets in District 10 alone received an F grade for having unsafe cracking and requiring immediate reconstruction. More than a third of L.A. streets received a score of D or lower, which is equally unacceptable. From the very young to the octogenarians, residents deserve far more. We deserve an environment that is maintained and safe for us to work, play, and live.
As a council member, my first point of action would be to restore the neglected duties of basic city services, which currently is a low priority. Following the example of Councilman Bernard Parks, I would use my discretionary funds to pay to improve basic infrastructure needs. Angelenos deserve to have their needs met and I would take the necessary steps to make this happen.
Why should voters vote for you? The top four responsibilities of a council member are to develop balanced budgets, appoint city administrators, foster community development (economic and social), and pass local ordinances regarding traffic, parking, zoning, and more.
My more than 15 years as executive director of both national and local organizations have afforded me the opportunity to oversee budgets, hire staff and appoint members to committees as well as oversee numerous legal matters. These positions have prepared me for the responsibilities and duties of a council member. Another job duty that is required is listening to and working with neighborhood councils, community leaders, community based organizations, residents, businesses, and other stakeholders.
I will make it a priority to continue the work I started as a community organizer by building bridges between different cultures and communities as council member. I will be responsive to the needs of residents in the 10th District and will be an active listener seeking input from the various communities in the district. I believe the first step in solving any problem begins with providing an opportunity for everyone to be heard.
Best quote: “All of our voices, not just the special interests, deserve to be heard in City Hall.”