LOS ANGELES — Eighth District candidate Marqueece Harris-Dawson is campaigning to win Bernard Parks’ termed-out seat because he is fighting to improve his “village.”
The South L.A. native is following in the footsteps of Karen Bass, the founder of Community Coalition, who transitioned into politics after winning the 47th Assembly District race in 2004. Harris-Dawson was the former president and CEO of the Community Coalition, a nonprofit organization that works to improve the quality of life in marginalized neighborhoods.
When he was younger, his parents made the decision to uproot their family from the area after the crack cocaine epidemic, when gang and police violence became every-day occurrences for him and his younger brother.
He returned to South L.A. after graduating from Morehouse College to work for his grandfather’s real estate business. While working there, he said the trade enabled him to become familiar with not only the neighborhoods but also the challenges residents faced due to the lack of quality public services, poverty and joblessness.
Harris-Dawson recently expressed his frustration over the lack of resources seen in the district on his Facebook page. During a door-to-door campaign with Councilman Curren D. Price, the candidate learned residents were experiencing slow response times from ambulance and police calls — and even labeled the habitual incidents as “neglect” which left him “downright enraged.”
“I’m so sick and tired of the city giving up on our neighborhoods, devaluing our people and disrespecting our families. This is serious business, we must do better! We’ve got to win this thing!” he wrote Feb. 16 on Facebook.
His endorsements include Bass, several L.A. City Council members, labor unions and clergy leaders.
In preparation for the March 3 election, Harris-Dawson participated in The Wave’s council profile for each candidate in the 8th District.
Name: Marqueece Harris-Dawson
Marital status/children: My wife, Karrie, and I have lived in District 8 for 18 years.
Where do you live: West Park Terrace
Professional Life: I started my training in community organizing with Karen Bass at Community Coalition, where I led one of the organization’s first education campaigns to win $153 million to repair South L.A. schools. For the last 10 years, I have served as the president and CEO of Community Coalition. Under my leadership, Community Coalition has involved thousands of residents in the political process and won campaigns to improve South L.A. schools and neighborhoods and keep families together.
Platform: I will demand respect for Council District 8 and ensure local government is more responsive to our district. I will continue to bring residents, business, labor and government together to improve neighborhood safety and increase economic opportunities in South L.A.
I have three campaign priorities that are equally important. I will:
• Revitalize our commercial corridors to attract business investment and improve neighborhood safety.
• Combat unemployment by targeting recruitment and hiring for city jobs in South L.A. communities.
• Reduce crime through comprehensive strategies that involve partnerships between residents and law enforcement and increase access to youth programs and mental health and drug treatment services.
Why should voters vote for you?
District 8 needs strong leadership and someone with a proven track record of bringing people together to create change from the bottom up. My accomplishments of delivering change to South L.A. is unmatched by any other candidate. My work as an activist and community leader has changed the way the education, criminal justice and child welfare systems serve our communities. I have a 20-year track record of winning our fair share of city services and making local government more responsive to our district. I have directly led efforts to pressure the City to shut down and cite dozens of nuisance businesses in our district and I have built community partnerships between government, residents and law enforcement to renovate facilities and increase programming for families in public parks. Over the last 10 years, I have fought side by side with residents to win nearly $1 billion in public funding to support families and improve education and safety in South L.A. I have earned the endorsements of key labor, community and business leaders in the district. Nine City Council members have endorsed my campaign and are ready to work with me to address citywide issues. I have the experience and leadership necessary to implement sustainable solutions to the urgent needs of our district.
“The greatest assets in the 8th District are the people and I believe together we can build a brighter future for South L.A.”