The Venice Neighborhood Council was created in 2002 by the City of Los Angeles, to act in an advisory capacity on issues concerning Venice. Elections are now held every two years and an election of officers and board members is coming up on April 11.
The terms of all 21 positions on the VNC are expiring, so the seats are “up for grabs” and an unprecedented 38 people are candidates. Mike Newhouse, outgoing president of the VNC, talked with the Mirror about the election.
“We have a 21-person board; seven of them are executive officers. Those, with the exception of the LUPC (Land Use and Planning) Chair, are not contested. Probably the reason why is, generally, those positions require one to have been involved with the Council in the past and know how the organization works. So the people who run for them are those who have held the positions before.”
The exception, Newhouse noted, is the chair of the Land Use and Planning Committee. In this case, the longtime chair, Challis McPherson, is stepping down and the two candidates vying to replace her are not veterans of LUPC but newcomers.
These candidates, Jacob A. Kaufman and Adam S. Glick, “have been involved in the Council in different ways—they have been on various committees in the past year,” said Newhouse. “But they have not been involved in the Land Use and Planning Committee.
“Adam has been involved in our Neighborhoods Committee which has reps from each of the different neighborhoods in Venice. Jake Kaufman has been in Venice for a year or so, started coming to our meetings, and got really involved.”
The other candidates for executive positions are moving up in the usual way. “Our current Vice-President, Linda Lucks, is running for President. Carolyn Rios is running for Vice-President; she’s been on the Council for several years.” Other officers are running uncontested for the offices they now hold.
“The other 14 positions of the 21 are what we call ‘community officers,’ [in other words] council people. Those are all up for election. We’ve got 31 candidates running for those spots. I’ve been on the Council for four years but from what I’ve heard, this is the most candidates we’ve ever had.”
Newhouse credits the high level of community interest to the VNC’ s work in doing outreach, “letting people know the VNC exists. While we’re a body that recommends, rather than a body that makes legislative decisions, we’ve weighed in on a lot of important issues.
“Some people think we’ve done everything right, some think we’ve done everything wrong, some are in the middle. But everyone seems to realize that it’s an important function of our community.”
Issues that are on the community’s mind and that may have led to the large number of candidates, include overnight parking permits and parked vehicles with inhabitants, as well as land use in Venice and the proliferation of medical marijuana dispensaries.
Newhouse said that he decided not to run again for President because he wants to devote more time to his family and his law business, and also he felt that it was time for a turnover in representation. He will continue, however, in an advisory capacity as ex-President Dede Audet does for the current VNC administration.
Mirror Contributing Writerlynne@smmirror.com