LOS ANGELES—While his opponents are competing to take his seat in the 10th City Council District race, it is business as usual for City Council President Herb Wesson Jr., who is letting constituents know there is plenty of unfinished work ahead.
Wesson’s political platform mirrors his opponents, Delaney “Doc” Smith and Grace Yoo, meaning each candidate wants to improve the district they call home, whether it is by increasing the local economy or obtaining resources. But how each candidate goes about doing so differs and that is when politics enters the equation.
For some time, Wesson has supported an increase in the minimum wage with earlier proposals suggesting the current rate of $9 an hour be increased to $13.25 by 2017, and perhaps an additional raise to $15.25 by 2019.
He believes the raise could help residents, especially given the average wage falls nearly $17,000 below the city average, according to an annual report by the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.
While he has 20 years of experience in government, Wesson knows his critics remain skeptical in trusting elected officials to deliver what they promise due to limited progress.
“We just got to keep moving forward,” Wesson said, at the Kingdom Day Parade last month. “They may be right. So that means we have to do more, we have to be focused, we’re committed to do that. So I’m very optimistic we’ll get the job done. We will elevate trust in our community, in our city.”
In preparation for the March 3 election, Wesson participated in The Wave’s council profile for each candidate in the 10th District.
Name: Herb J. Wesson Jr.
Marital status/children: I have been married to my wife Fabian for 34 years. I am the father of four sons, and a grandfather of three.
Where do you live: Wellington Square
Professional Life:In 1998, I was elected to represent the 47th state Assembly District and was honored to have been elected the 65th speaker of the California State Assembly.
In November 2005, I was elected to represent the 10th City Council District in the city of Los Angeles. I was re-elected by wide margins in 2007 and 2011. In 2012, I was elected the first African American to serve as president of the Los Angeles City Council, a position that I currently hold.
I’m just an ordinary guy that’s been blessed to have an extraordinary job.
Platform: I have dedicated my entire life to being a public servant. It’s a job that I love and a job that I believe that I do well. I am committed to delivering the public services that the people in my district want, need and expect, such as jobs and economic development; affordable housing; parks and open space and increasing the minimum wage.
Why Should Voters Vote for You? I believe that I’m worthy of support because I’ve been a leader on the City Council and I’ve delivered for our community. Since I have been on the City Council we have invested billions in economic development and public infrastructure, creating 6,000 new jobs in the 10th Council District, including an investment of over $18 million in the District Square project at Crenshaw Boulevard and Rodeo Road which will provide hundreds of construction and permanent jobs. In the coming years we will be developing the Marlton Square project near the Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw Plaza.
Since I have been on the City Council, we have worked to address the lack of parks and open space in the district. District-wide, we have invested approximately $100 million in parks and open space, including an investment of over $15 million at the Rancho Cienega Sports Complex, where we have installed a new artificial turf and track, a new soccer field, a new skate park, and renovated tennis courts. The gymnasium and swimming pool have to be replaced, and we are now assembling the needed $32 million in funds to provide new facilities.
Since I have represented Leimert Park, we have invested over $10 million in the renovation of the historic Vision Theater in Leimert Park Village.
Since I have been on the City Council we have built approximately 700 units of affordable family housing, which is critically important in Los Angeles. We have another 200 units in the pipeline.
Alleviating poverty should be on our city’s agenda, and I am committed to seeing our city adopt a minimum wage ordinance that will enable many of our people to climb out of poverty. This will be good for our community, and it will be good for our local economy.
Political motto: Leadership isn’t about always doing what you want to do, it’s about doing what you have to do.