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Venice Council Candidates Hold Forum:

Candidates running for the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) addressed their neighbors on Wednesday evening, September 6, in the Venice High School auditorium so the community could see what it would be voting for in the election to be held this Sunday, September 17, at the same location. The election features 24 candidates for 11 open seats on the volunteer council.

Polls will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the auditorium at 13000 Venice Blvd., and all “stakeholders” – residents, property owners and those employed in Venice – are eligible to vote if they have registered or bring their “credentials” on election day. Details are available at the election hotline at 310.928.3862 or at http://grvnc.org.

At the September 6 forum attended by about 55 people, the uncontested candidates for President, First Vice President and Outreach Chair, and the two hopefuls running for Land Use and Planning Chair made brief statements and answered questions from the floor and from moderator Roger Templeton of the Venice Paper. After coffee and cookies, election chair Richard Myers introduced the candidates for the seven open Community Officer seats, and each spoke briefly.

The Uncontested

Incumbent VNC president DeDe Audet is running unopposed to continue in that office. When asked what she would choose as her No. 1 project for the coming year, she referred to beautification funds of about $800,000 available from the City of Los Angeles, and said she wanted to see that Venice submitted proposals to obtain some of those funds.

Yolanda Gonzalez, now VNC Second Vice President, is running without opposition for First Vice President. A naturalized citizen who speaks four languages, she said that land issues, affordable housing and tenants’ concerns would be subjects she would address in the course of performing one of her duties – to act as liaison with other neighborhood councils.

Council member L. J. Carusone is running alone for Outreach Officer, a new office, and he spoke of the opportunity for coalition building that the position affords.

The Contest

The leadership of the influential Land Use and Planning Committee (LUPC) is contested between incumbent chair Challis Macpherson and council member (and committee member) Michael P. King. Macpherson stressed her VNC leadership experience, and King his work as an architect and planner. Questions were posed to the candidates from the floor and from the moderator, and each responded in turn to each question.

Community Officer Candidates

The remaining 19 candidates are all running at large for seven Community Officer seats. Unlike past elections, this year each stakeholder may vote for one candidate only, and the seven with the most votes get the seats.

The candidates were called upon at the forum in randomly determined order, and each spoke briefly about his/her background or plans, or both, except for no-shows Raphael Gutierrez, Spike Marlin, Darlene Knoll, Robin Murez and Howard J. Wiggett. One write-in candidate, lawyer Mike Newhouse, was announced, and Venice resident Pam Presley spoke on his behalf as he was out of the country that evening. Candidate statements for those who submitted them are available at http://grvnc.org.

After the forum, election chair Myers – recognizing the genuinely impressive quality and diversity of the field of candidates – said that he hoped that the wealth of talent on display that evening could be fully harnessed, as much of the Neighborhood Council’s work is done through committees which include many persons in addition to the 21 elected Council members.

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