City Council (D8): Robert Cole
Occupation: Owns political consulting firm, Ground Zero Communications
What are your top three priorities if elected?
My top three priorities for District 8 if elected will be: 1. To move with a sense of urgency to improve quality of life issues in every neighborhood which ultimately lower expectations to a subpar but tolerable norm of living like illegal dumping, sidewalk and street repair and gang graffiti. 2. To generate more jobs by creating private/public partnerships commissioned to develop the excessive number of vacant lots and abandon buildings in the district. 3. To prevent gang and youth violence by working with parents, teachers and LAUSD to provide resources involving career counseling, more after-school programs and mentor programs.
What makes you more qualified than your opponents?
I was truly born and raised in the district, attending elementary school in the district and graduating with high honors from Crenshaw High School. I have the unique civic government background that covers state, county and federal experience. I have worked for 4 different elected officials on state and federal levels, including a position as Chief of Staff in the California State Assembly. I am currently a county commissioner appointed by former Supervisor Burke and reappointed by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.
I have also been active in the community and have served as president for 10 years of my homeowners association. I have held served as President/chair of several community-based organizations including a non-profit and my local neighborhood council. I left the state assembly for a senior position for Barack Obama as the California State Director of African American Outreach during his first run in 2007. In high school, I was elected as the student-body president and worked directly with former schoolboard member Rita Walkers on the “C” Average Proposals for student athletes. I have also worked for civil rights activist and congressional member John Lewis. I have been able to have stop signs put up, a crosswalk, and was the recipient of several $10,000 competitive grants used to remove blight and address quality of life issues in the district. I have been involved in community service projects and constituent services as the age of 11 as a Boy Scout and later as a LAPD Law Explorer. In conclusion, I have spent years volunteering to improve my community and am ready to make it official.
Would you consider offering incentives to attract more economic development to the Eighth District? If so, what type of incentives (be specific).
Yes, I would consider offering deferred taxing and reducing the processing time for permits and licensing process for development projects within a certain range of development.
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 do.
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?
Yes, the city needs to look into other investment opportunities and/or ways of being able to delay pension payouts until there is a significant generation of capital.
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)?
Yes, as long as all parties are all part of the decision making process, and there are no undue adverse financial hardships to immediate family members.
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?
No, adding more jobs would further add to the growing deficit.
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?
Any time race or any other characteristic is allegedly used to create and/or separate neighborhoods, the democracy process through the court system would be the best way to determine the legality of the redrawn boundaries. The court system, and not the expiration of time, would be the best way to address this issue, especially when politics is involved. Residents and voters need to have faith in the decision making process of politicians, or more voters could lose faith in our elected officials. Thus, the full review and determination by the courts is the best way to determine if in fact there was a violation.
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?
No, I don’t think the LAPD as an organization targets black residents, but individuals who are LAPD officers fail to act within prescribed conduct code of the LAPD. The LAPD can address this problem by look for ways of conducting monthly training sessions regarding race relations.
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)?
Although I do support an increase in the minimum wage, I believe additional reports on the overall fiscal impact on small businesses and/or the City of Los Angeles should be researched to determine how a city like Los Angeles will be able to afford a high rate, given the current budget shortfall situation.