|No women on the Los Angeles City Council is too "disturbing." She had to run, says Rebecca Chambliss, who is one of only two women running for Janice Hahn's former council seat against nine men.|
Thursday, September 29, 2011
WITH FEW WOMEN SIGNING ON, A SAN PEDRO WOMAN BRAVELY CLIMBS INTO THE RACE FOR THE LOS ANGELES CITY COUNCIL SEAT ONCE HELD BY JANICE HAHN
By Diana L. Chapman
Fearing no women would run, realtor Rebecca Chambliss dared to do what only one other woman was courageous enough to do – run for an open Los Angeles seat against nine men.
Once former Los Angeles Councilwoman Janice Hahn went off to congress, Chambliss, 41, perused the stats and found something she considers disturbing – only one woman, Jan Perry, remains on the Los Angeles City Council. Perry, termed-out, recently launched a campaign to become the city’s next mayor.
That leaves zero women on a council that serves more than four million residents – and “that does matter,” Chambliss explained. She went for it despite that she is facing two old-time politicos, former Los Angeles Councilman Rudy Svorinich and Assemblyman Warren Furutani representing the state’s 55th District.
“Los Angeles is made up of more women than men,” she said. “It’s shocking that women could soon have no voice on the 15 person City Council. Women have a different perspective, we are generally more sensitive to issues about children, education, seniors, public safety and have different priorities where resources are allocated.
“In order for the City Council to best serve the people who live in Los Angeles, the council should be reflective of the people who live here.”
Only one other woman has stepped up to the political plate – M. “Candice” Graham, a community activist and business woman in Wilmington.
Chambliss , who has toyed with running for office in the past, said she’s discouraged how her community of San Pedro deteriorated more than ever under Hahn’s watch. If she wins, Chambliss is already planning ways she’s going to improve the council area that stretches from Watts south to Harbor Gateway and spreads out across Wilmington, Harbor City and San Pedro.
To start, Chambliss said, she wants to back up to the days when Hahn – “who was always looking for her next position,” allowed 40 officers to be removed from the Harbor Area due and moved to other locations. She wants all 40 back, because without safety, a community plunges into darker days that comes complete with more drugs, gangs and crime. That drags an area further down.
Without addressing safety issues, she said, as a Palos Verdes Peninsula realtor who lives in San Pedro, a community can’t move forward and real estate values decline.
“We’ve been a stepchild for so long, that people have just resigned themselves,” the realtor said. “The community has gotten weaker then when I was a kid. San Pedro and the Harbor area are different places.
“There is disrepair of the streets, the parks and the pride of the area is not what it used to be. I first and foremost have the passion to return this area to what it used to be.”
Chambliss offers an interesting dichotomy of experience outside local politics. As a realtor, she understands contracts, large financial purchases along with zoning and tax issues. That allows her to better understand city jargon and what issues residents are really facing. Besides her real estate job on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, she started a non-profit rescue for Tibetan mastiffs and worked on large spay and neuter events.
She’s also proud that she spent hours picketing against the controversial Ponte Vista development, a project which initially proposed 1,700 plus townhomes to be built at a former military site along Western Avenue in zoning for single family homes. That proposal eventually was rejected.
Her strength, she said, is: “I do what I say I’m going to do,” said Chambliss, who attended San Pedro High and owns two Tibetan mastiffs, Riley and Raja.
Issues she plans to jump on beside beefing up safety officers include:
--Diligently attempting to relocate the butane tanks on northern Gaffey, which could destroy hundreds of homes and businesses, perhaps thousands, in the event of a disaster, she said. Two of tanks there can carry up 25 million gallons of butane and an additional 300,000 gallons of propane. The tanks, she said, never should have been installed in such a dense community in the first place.
“It’s not like we are benefiting from these,” Chambliss contended. “They need to be relocated if there’s any threat to the population. The city, she said, has the power to force the move.”
--She will focus on the issues of the district – and not outside factors as other council members have done in the past, pointing to the wobbling and limp Los Angeles City Council’s boycott of Arizona goods and services when that state went after stricter immigration laws. Too often, she added, the council at large spends too much time on matters that are not their concern.
--Improve and redevelop the New England style village along the port called Ports O Call. “That used to be such a great place when I was a kid,” she said adding that its now shabby and run-down. “It has to be redone. We need to sit down and look at other areas that have done this, like in Long Beach. Right now, no one wants to go to Ports O Call,” she claims because there’s not much there.
--The usage of private and public partnerships, she said, are a way to redefine what residents want by selecting the best agencies to run city operations that are failing the public. For example, she pointed out, Los Angeles city aquatics kicked out parents who wanted to watch their children swim at Peck Park Pool.
“In some cases, it’s just better to have it in private hands,” she explained. “You get in proposals and find someone who can run it better” and a group that addresses the public’s needs.
--Chambliss said she will advocate for businesses, so it’s not so difficult for them to open and run their operations. She adds that most business ventures will not come until officials in the district start cleaning up the crime, the graffiti and the trash currently on the streets, which is unappealing and unacceptable in her book.
“We are at a critical time and we’re going downhill fast,” Chambliss explained. “I don’t think we need more politicians. We need fresh faces and fresh ideas and fresh solutions.”