Familiar faces amid Los Angeles County’s changing of the guard

Familiar faces amid Los Angeles County’s changing of the guard

Last week’s swearing-in of new county officials has been billed as a changing of the guard. But it’s actually more like an existing team getting new uniforms.

Supervisor Hilda Solis has named Peter Hong, who once worked for Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, as her chief of staff. And Supervisor Sheila Kuehl’s staff relies heavily on people who worked for her predecessor, Zev Yaroslavsky — starting with her chief of staff, Lisa Mandel.

Of her 23-person corps, eight had worked for Yaroslavsky and several others had experience with former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Supervisor Gloria Molina.

Kuehl said her staff “is a wonderfully experienced group, able to hit the ground running.”

Kuehl’s ceremony also marked a rare local public appearance by Villaraigosa, who was one of the featured speakers. He had been Assembly speaker when Kuehl was elected as the first gay state legislator.

DIVERSITY STUDY

Despite its diversity, Los Angeles County is falling behind in the political representation of minorities and women, a study from Loyola Marymount University finds.

The Politics of Inclusion,” developed by students at the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center, shows that in the 100 top elected positions, whites and African-Americans remain overrepresented. Latinos, Asian-Americans and women have fewer representatives than their share of the population. And women, who are half the population, hold 28 of the top offices.

“Part of what we see here is expected,” said Professor Fernando Guerra, director of the center. “When elections only happen every two or four years and incumbents have the advantage, there’s a lag between population changes and the makeup of the political establishment.”

At Los Angeles City Hall, only one of the 15 council members is a woman. The county is faring better, with two of the five supervisors and the district attorney female.

PARKS JOINS BALLOT FIGHT

Councilman Bernard Parks, who terms out of office next year, is not going away quietly.

Parks announced last week that he will be joining with the East Area Progressive Democrats to fight a March ballot proposal aimed at changing the city election dates to even-numbered years to increase voter turnout.

Parks has been designated as the person writing the ballot arguments against the measure.

Writing in favor of the change is the aforementioned Guerra of Loyola Marymount and California Common Cause Director Kathay Feng. Guerra and Feng served on the Municipal Election Reform Commission, which recommended the change.

Parks and others in opposition question whether the move would even increase voter participation and could instead work to diminish interest in local political matters.

DO I KNOW YOU?

From the Fame is Fleeting Department: Former Supervisor Yarsoslavsky said last week that he went to the city credit union for some routine business.

“They asked for my name and an ID,” he said. “Then the person said to me, ‘You look familiar.’ ”

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