Candidates Address Eastside Residents in Mayoral Forum

By Gloria Angelina Castillo, EGP Staff Writer

Four candidates vying to be Los Angeles’ next mayor participated in a mayoral candidate forum in Boyle Heights on Aug. 16. The event, presented by Ya Basta and the East Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, included the participation of City Hall veteran Councilwoman Jan Perry, radio broadcaster and lawyer Kevin James, former Villaraigosa aide Emanuel Pleitez and activist Deacon Alexander.

Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Candidatos a la Alcaldía de Los Ángeles Abordan Temas en un Foro en Boyle Heights

About 100 people attended the forum that took place early in the campaign/election cycle, the filing period for which is still some time away, and the primary race not until March 5, 2013.

Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel and Councilmember Eric Garcetti (CD-13), who have also announced they are running for mayor, and widely considered to be among the front runners, did not attend the forum.

Forum moderator, Art Camarillo of Glassell Park, asked the participants for their views on a variety of issues, from pension reform to the Mayor’s Partnership for Los Angeles School, and the Gang Reduction Youth Development program, among other issues.

All agreed that some form of pension reform is need.

Mayoral hopefuls Kevin James, Jan Perry, Emanuel Pleitez and Deacon Alexander answered questions from the moderator, and later from the public. EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo

James, a former Asst. U.S. Attorney and former television and radio broadcaster, said Los Angeles is on the verge of bankruptcy and givebacks from current pension recipients, for example, need to be negotiated in order to avoid fiscal insolvency.

“My opponents don’t have the guts to take the issue to court, like it happened in San Diego and San Jose. I can guarantee you, there isn’t a judge in California who will say we have to pay our pensions before police and fire employees [salaries] in the City of Los Angeles,” he said.

Perry, who has represented Council District 9 for 11 years, said it is “easy to talk about pension reform with people who have not been hired yet.” Beside reducing pension benefits and amounts for new city hires, she said the age to qualify for pensions also needs to be increased, and the total amount individuals can qualify needs to be reduced as well.

“We will have to continue to negotiate with all unions—and all the unions must be treated the same. Some unions are treated differently than others and that creates an imbalance,” Perry said.

Pleitez, who is Chief Strategy Officer at technology company Spokeo, said city employees need to contribute more to their retirement and “all options are on the table.”

“If we do have to declare bankruptcy… someone’s got to do it,” Pleitez said, noting he was not interested in being a popular politician.

Alexander, who also identified himself as a Skid Row resident and former member of the Black Panthers, said he is a retired union carpenter and supports labor unions. He said a better alternative to closing the city’s deficit would be for the city to stop giving away millions of dollars to developers.

“Union jobs is how we make it out of the ghetto, that’s how we get into the so-called ‘working class.’ It’s through union work,” Alexander said.

Responding to a question regarding the Gang Reduction Youth Development (GRYD) program that provides gang intervention and prevention services, Pleitez said he supports it and disclosed that he is chair of a non-profit that receives some GRYD funds. James and Perry also said they support the program, while Alexander said it is “a way for a few of our friends to get paid” and he said he would terminate it.

Perry and James said they support the Partnership for Los Angeles School, a non-profit created by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to turn around the worse performing schools in LAUSD. Alexander, however, was more neutral explaining the program has helped schools in Watts but he doesn’t support schools being “put into private hands.” Pleitez was the only candidate who said the Partnership was “not necessary,” his response elicited applause from members of Ya Basta, which has been working to remove Roosevelt High School from the Partnership’s management.

Ya Basta was formed roughly a year ago, the group’s name is not an acronym. “It means ‘we had enough,’ of all this stuff the politicians do to us,” Art Pulido, president of Ya Basta told EGP. The group wants government accountability in order to improve conditions in East and Northeast Los Angeles communities.

Ya Basta is planning a city attorney candidate forum; current City Attorney Carmen A. Trutanich who made an unsuccessful bid for the County D.A. nomination, attended the candidates forum held at La Casa del Mexicano.

To learn more about the candidates, visit their websites:;;; Alexander does not have a website.

To sign-up for Ya Basta’s distribution list, email

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August 23, 2012  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.


2 Responses to “Candidates Address Eastside Residents in Mayoral Forum”

  1. YJ Draiman for Mayor of LA on August 24th, 2012 1:08 pm

    Is the year 2013 Los Angeles Voters must kick the bums out of City Hall

    2013 is the year Los Angeles Voters can change City Hall and kick the bums out of LA City Council, with a Mayoral election and eight of fifteen seats up for re-election. That could be an opportunity to field a slate in opposition against the incumbents and to band together behind a big issue, like land use reform. Land use is how the city can accommodate growth and even boost the economy. Fiscal responsibility, Education reform, Public transportation expansion and reduced bureaucracy, we need credible new candidates with a strong backbone to stand up to the current administration and bring about the change to improve conditions in the City of Los Angeles.
    I fill confident, that if people want change they’d just vote for it.

    After all this is supposed to be “Government by the people for the people”. Let us exercise our right as citizens and vote the bums out.

    It is the destiny of the people of Los Angeles to take back their city in 2013, provided they vote their conscience.

    What we need is a Statesman – Not a Politician

    YJ Draiman

  2. YJ Draiman for Mayor of LA on October 31st, 2012 11:08 am

    “When will “ENOUGH BE ENOUGH?”

    We keep electing our political leaders from the same parasitic pool of privileged families.
    I challenge anyone to name the congressperson, or senator in Washington, or your state that was brought up in a middle income, middle class family, or had to work a real job to pay the bills. I’m not talking about attorneys, or corporate top level managers. These people are not what I consider workers! Show me the person in our government that has had to borrow money to send his kids to college, or take out an “inflated interest” loan to buy a house! Do any of them really care that we are mortgaging our children’s future to China? How many of them have had to go to war, or serve in the military other than be an officer with the elitist mindset that permeates our armed forces?
    We as voters are getting exactly what we have reaped because we fail to elect any leaders that actually know who we are, and what we think. Our salvation can only come from our votes, and we should vote the man, not the party! Vote for the person that has proven his way from a humble beginning, and succeeded…oh yeah!
    That’s right! You won’t find any such person because unless they sell out to a special interest group with money, fat chance they will be able to afford to compete in the arena of the privileged elite! Money actually buys our leaders even before they are elected!
    The current job down turn was badly handles from the beginning and the government’s response to the crisis has, in some instances, made matters worse.
    The feds threw stimulus money at California which simultaneously cut its EDD staff precisely when the unemployed needed their help the most. Sacramento sent bailout money to local municipalities like Los Angeles, which used the money to save high paying government jobs only to subsequently eliminate those same jobs as part of the city’s cost saving measures.
    The state and federal government layered on large amounts of…

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