City Council (D8): Bobbie Jean Anderson
Occupation: : Retired from the Los Angeles Public Defender’s Office. Longtime Democratic party and labor activist
What are your top three priorities if elected?
Economic recovery is the single most important issue facing the City of Los Angeles. As a Councilmember, I will work with the Mayor, Councilmembers and agency heads to face the issue head on. I will work to ensure that we do not balance the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable of our residents. These are tough and challenging times but where there is challenge, there is also opportunity. We need long-term, effective solutions. With reserves on the rise, we must work to ensure that we restore critical city services that will make our communities stronger, cleaner, and safer; the hallmark of my campaign. We must build an economy that is attractive to businesses, that stimulates job growth, makes our communities more livable, that pays fair wages and that lifts our citizens out of poverty. It is important that we ensure federal support of our efforts to build the economy, local industry and our workforce. It is also important to continue to strengthen our infrastructure e.g. streets, sidewalks, trees, sewers etc. as these improvements increase our city’s opportunity to attract development.
What makes you more qualified than your opponent?
I have lived and worked in the 8th Council District for more than 30 years. The 8th Council District, now more than ever, needs a vocal and forward thinking Councilmember. The 8th Council District has suffered tremendously economically and deserves a focused and established representative who knows how government works and is able to build strategic partnerships. One who has successfully organized her community and served as responsible political leader. My proven track record as an honest, effective and dependable leader makes me the most qualified candidate. I believe I know first-hand the issues and concerns of the 8th Council District. I also believe that I can do the job.
Would you consider offering incentives to attract more economic development? If so, what type of incentives (be specific)?
Absolutely. In fact, one of the key components of my plan to attract businesses to the 8th is finding ways to use existing tax credits, rebates and other innovative programs to make the 8th a great place to invest. I also will have a team of experts to advise us on how to create new ways to make the 8th attractive to businesses with a history of community involvement and local hires. I want to ensure that the majority of dollars invested, recycle in the 8th and surrounding districts. I am supportive of Mayor Garcetti’s proposal to lower the City’s top gross receipts business tax rate incrementally over three years beginning in 2016, affecting 44 percent of businesses in Los Angeles.
However, I want to ensure that we work with Businesses who receive these benefits are committed to local hires and support the recycling of these dollars in the City of Los Angeles and in the 8th Council District. We must tie our efforts to concrete ideas that ensure the bulk of the beneficiaries are residents of the City of Los Angeles.
I remember the days of a thriving 8th b that had business districts. My team is evaluating plans that have been effective in other communities with similar concerns and issues. We are confident we can establish innovative partnerships to attract development and grow our economy.
City employee pensions
The cost of city employee pensions and health care have been a concern in City Hall. Do you support the 2012 vote that reduced pensions for new employees?
Yes. I am in agreement with the position that my union has taken during past negotiations.
Trimming pension costs
Does the city need to take further action in trim pension costs? If so, what actions do you support? If not, why not?
Rising pension costs are a critical issue for Los Angeles and must be monitored aggressively. The Mayor’s 2014-2015 Budget offers several solutions that I support. The Mayor’s Budget reports and incorporates higher than anticipated growth in City revenue sources such as Property Tax, Documentary Transfer Tax, and Transient Occupancy Tax and projected savings in pensions and benefit costs due to higher than anticipated investment earnings in the pension funds and lower than projected costs for human resources benefits. In addition, we will need to continue to study and implement revenue generation ideas proposed by the CORE Commission, led by Ron Galperin prior to election as Los Angeles City Controller. To address the $300M shortfall we must have continued efforts to contain the cost of the major contributor to the deficit, personnel cost e.g. Salary, pensions, worker comp, and medical costs.
If elected, I propose that the Council work closely with the Mayor to find common ground so that we continue to grow the City’s economy. I will be pushing to ensure that the 8th Council District gets its fair share of resources, however, I believe a focus on building a fiscally strong local economy will strengthen the City overall.
Do you support asking all city employees (unionized and non-unionized) to contribute a portion of their health care premiums (including the LAPD and LAFD)?
These are lean economic times and we are experiencing high unemployment. While we need to be able to offer our employees the best benefits packages we can, we should not balance the budget on the backs of our employees as a first option. However, these costs impact the budget significantly. For this reason, I would support a modest share of health care costs. We need to continue to investigate other ways to reduce and maintain costs related to employee benefits. We are seeing revenues with the current plan. I want to continue on this path with close monitoring and benchmarks along the way. We have a CAO or Budget/Revenue Czar, who we need to hear from regularly and whose recommendation need close evaluation and scrutiny. While I have some challenges with his recommendations for privatization, it is his task to do the hard work of advising us. I expect to immediately hire our own expert on staff budget advisor who will be looking out for the interests of our residents.
City Hall workforce
During the recession, City Hall cut its work force by about 5,000 positions. Do you support adding back jobs to return to that level?
Yes. The residents and citizens of Los Angeles are getting the short end of the deal. Much needed City services have been impacted by the cuts and people are feeling it. We need a thoughtful plan to restore needed positons and vital services. I would add a hiring policy that gives a preference whenever possible to verified LA City residents so that those employees put their spending and taxes back into our city coffers.
The district’s boundaries were redrawn in 2010 and litigation contesting various aspects of the changes is still ongoing. Do you support the litigation, or is it time to move on?
As a member of the LA City Redistricting Commission who experienced the shame that many put politics before basic fairness and the good over the people, I wholeheartedly support the challenges before the court. There were many decisions made that I fought against and believe were illegal.
Tensions with LAPD
Recent police actions against black citizens have sparked rising tensions with the Los Angeles Police Department (and other law enforcement agencies across the U.S.). Do you believe that the LAPD improperly targets black residents for enforcement? If yes, what changes should the LAPD take to mediate this problem? If no, what can the LAPD do to quell this perception?
Yes, I believe that African American citizens and other minorities are targeted disproportionately. Many studies have supported these facts. Clearly we have ongoing issues that quite frankly have left many in our community distrustful of law enforcement and the judicial system. Since the Consent Decree we have made many important changes. However, we still have a long way to go. I support efforts to purchase body camera for each officer and polices that reprimand officers who violate the policy intentionally. I personally believe that we must make many changes to the way we hire and train police officers. Programs that incentivize officers who live in the communities they serve, engage in programs that promote trust, mentor other offices in community policing techniques and reward officers who go beyond the call of duty to protect and serve.
Do you support an increase in the minimum wage to $13.25/hour (as proposed by Mayor Garcetti) or $15/hour (as proposed by some council members and outside labor/social equity groups)?
I am supportive of the Mayor’s plan. As a union member, I support worker’s rights but I believe as a Councilmember I must work for the people and for the overall good. I want a measured and balanced approach that continues to grow the economy leading to more employment and a plan to lift works out of poverty with livable wages.