LA City Council District 7 Runoff: Meet the candidates

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Los Angeles voters in City Council District 7 will head to the polls on May 16 to decide between the two candidates in the runoff, Monica Rodriguez and Karo Torossian.

The winner of the open seat will represent District 7, which covers portions of northern Los Angeles, including Sunland, Lake View Terrace, Pacoima and Shadow Hills.

That district has been without a vote on the council since former City Council member Felipe Fuentes left last year to become a lobbyist.

KPCC conducted a survey during the primary election to help District 7 voters make their choice. 

We asked each candidate to give us their one-sentence pitch to voters, a brief bio and answers to two questions. The seat is non-partisan, so we are not including party affiliation. Below you’ll find the candidates' answers in their own words. Submissions have been lightly edited for style and clarity.

Monica Rodriguez

Monica Rodriguez at a candidate forum for Los Angeles City Council District 7 on Feb. 11, 2017.
Monica Rodriguez at a candidate forum for Los Angeles City Council District 7 on Feb. 11, 2017. Dan Tuffs for KPCC

One-sentence pitch:

I have spent over 20 years serving this community. No other candidate has the experience, commitment, and track record of getting results that I do.

Bio

I’m a lifelong CD7 resident with over 20 years of experience serving our community. I served as an advisor and community liaison to two former Councilmembers and Mayor Richard Riordan. As an executive with the CA Association of Realtors, I helped create a Mortgage Protection Program that kept thousands of families in their homes during the Great Recession. As Vice Chair of the Board of Public Works I improved the delivery of basic city services and fought for our fair share from City Hall.

What is the top problem in District 7 and how would you fix it?

The one concern that I hear residents and small business owners voice consistently is the need for a more responsive, attentive, and effective leadership who will fight for and deliver our fair share of resources. As City Council member, I will make constituent services my number one priority. In my experience, this is the single most important job an elected official can do.

If elected, describe how you would approach constituent concerns?

As I mentioned above, constituent services will be my top priority. Our community has been starved for accessible and responsive leadership. I will approach constituent concerns with an equally experienced staff that knows how to maximize our city resources to deliver results. I will also focus my team on organizing residents to create an increased volume of service requests that will generate prioritization for resource allocation within the city budget. I will continue to be accessible to every neighborhood and corner of this district, maintaining regular office hours to meet with constituents and problem solve.

Karo Torossian

Karo Torossian at a candidate forum for Los Angeles City Council District 7 on Feb. 11, 2017.
Karo Torossian at a candidate forum for Los Angeles City Council District 7 on Feb. 11, 2017. Dan Tuffs for KPCC

One-sentence pitch:

I will be a strong voice for you at City Hall, not beholden to special interests, making sure CD7 receives its fair share of resources

Bio

I attended Valley public schools from K–12 before going to Los Angeles Valley College and then the University of California Los Angeles, where I earned my bachelor’s degree in political science. I completed my master’s degree in urban and regional planning at California Polytechnic University, Pomona. My professional experience has been overseeing policy and planning matters affecting land use, the environment, economic development and community revitalization.

What is the top problem in District 7 and how would you fix it?

The main challenge facing CD7 is that its residents have been ignored and taken for granted too long. Reducing homelessness, preserving the environment, improving public safety and increasing smart, community-oriented economic development are issues that need to be addressed immediately. Homelessness is an issue that is not exclusive to CD7, but has impacted CD7 communities disproportionately in the last few years. The passage of Proposition HHH gives us an opportunity to address this problem all across the city. I will fight to make LAPD dedicate more resources that can serve and protect the streets and residents of CD7. I find it unacceptable to have officers on desk duty and doing clerical work that can be done by civilians, which would allow those sworn officers to patrol our streets. I also want to add more fire companies in the district and build a new station in Sylmar to serve the area.

If elected, describe how you would approach constituent concerns?

As a former neighborhood council member, I understand the important role neighborhoods groups play in improving our community. I’ve been very active in local groups and believe they are the bridge between City Hall and the neighborhood, and that council members should rely on their local Neighborhood Councils/Watches, etc to be the eyes and ears of the communities they serve. I know that some CD7 communities felt abandoned by city representatives, but that would never happen with me. I pledge to always work hand in hand with every neighborhood in CD7, and that I will always have an open door to listen to their concerns.

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