By Ashley Beasley
Westside Regional Alliance of Councils conducted a successful Town HallMeeting Monday night with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at the Felicia Mahood Senior Citizen Center in West Los Angeles. The spirit of the event was palpable as community leaders and interested constituents snacked on refreshments and mingled, awaiting Villaraigosa’s arrival.
“You can only change government by being a part of the process,” retired former federal government employee, Allen Bridges said, whose issue was apron parking in his neighborhood on Beverly Glen.
Other audience members consisted not only of concerned residents, but many strong community members, business owners and city officials.
Warming up the crowd with an enthusiastic round of audience introductions was Councilmember Bill Rosendahl of City District 11. Rosendahl’s introduction for Mayor Villaraigosa began with a hat tip to his transportation efforts and successes, namely Measure R, responsible for the rapid Metro Rail developments.
Without further hesitation, the questions commenced and showed no signs of mercy for Villaraigosa.
When a Mar Vista Community Councilmember, held up a document with 21 infrastructure initiatives drafted and asked Villaraigosa who at his office he could hand it to, the mayor said, “Me; give it to me.” He walked over to the man and received the document personally.
Dee Olomajeye, President of the Palms Neighborhood Council said was surprised at how personable, yet candid, Villaraigosa was. “It was probably as frank as a politician can get,” she said.
Issues for the evening spanned the board from infrastructure and core services to tax reform and billboard sign regulation, but a recurring answer to many of these questions related to budget constraints.
“The fact is, we had to make cuts,” Villaraigosa said, in response to one Pacific Palisadian’s question on fire prevention in her neighborhood, but added that fire and safety are his main priorities.
Villaraigosa, who is in his final term in office, added his administration balanced the budget three years in a row and cut a third of his civic workforce to help do so.