West LA Dems Host Five Hopefuls in CD-11 Forum

No Council Candidate reaches required 60% threshold, Good finishes first, Darling second and Newhouse third

By Nick Antonicello

The West LA Democratic Club continued their endorsement and selection process over the weekend, but no candidate reached the required 60% threshold to earn the organization’s endorsement in the June 7th Primary to succeed outgoing Councilman Mike Bonin who is retiring after two terms of office.

The controversial incumbent has been plagued by a homeless endemic within the district that was the source of an unsuccessful recall drive that accumulated 95% of the signatures required or 26,000 individuals that sought the removal provision to ballot.

Since Bonin opted to retire rather than seek reelection which caused an-open seat opportunity, the Westside-based Democrats hosted five of the candidates of which three reside in Venice and one former Venetian with another from the Pacific Palisades participated in a 90-minute ZOOM forum of about 100 club members which was moderated by Venice resident Dave Dayen, accomplished author and executive editor of The American Prospect.

The five candidates consisted of Greg Good, Erin Darling, Mike Newhouse, Allison Holdorff-Polhill and Traci Park.

Homelessness and the root causes of it dominated the question and answer format that resulted in a thoughtful and sober discussion of what is probably the single most important issue on the minds of many CD-11 voters.

In Holdorff-Polhill, a Pacific Palisades resident and former staffer to school board member Nick Melvoin, this is her second try for public office as she was defeated in her bid for school trustee in 2017.

An attorney and school choice advocate, the candidate said she would support affordable housing and stressed LAPD must be able to solve crimes by providing them with the proper technology while trying to attract and retain the finest in personnel.

Holdorff-Polhill stressed her environmental and liberal credentials to this partisan audience of Democrats by lending true effort to the cause of climate change while stating her pro-choice and reproductive rights credentials.

Candidate Greg Good, a former resident of Venice served on the club’s executive committee as a vice-president that probably loomed large in his first- place finish, but falling far from securing the club’s official endorsement.

Good claimed he was “fired up to run” and talked about his long service as an educator and teacher in both Inglewood and Compton to working for Mayor Eric Garcetti and then being appointed to the board of the Department of Public Works where he served as President.

A former not-for-profit executive and attorney, Good is married with a school-age daughter.

Good talked about bringing “folks together” and supports linkage fees for affordable housing while calling for fewer sworn officers behind desks and into the streets. Good stressed his relationship with the LAPD and overall contacts in municipal government as a strong prerequisite for elective office.

Good talked also about walkability in neighborhoods and the phasing out of oil drilling here in Los Angeles.

Life-long Venetian Erin Darling, who joined the ZOOM call late talked about his time in Venice and a strong sense of community.

His Mom is a teacher and the married Darling with one child spoke about of what he called “a sense of unfairness, a sense of purpose,” when it came to the issues of homelessness here in the district.

Darling, a public-interest attorney spoke passionately about “re-housing the homeless” while strengthening tenant protections and supporting measures to combat climate change.

Candidate Traci Park entered the race while the incumbent Mike Bonin was still seeking reelection and positioned her candidacy parallel in many respects with the Bonin recall initiative.

An attorney by profession with an emphasis in municipal law, Park believes her credentials are tailored to work with both business and public entities.

Park claimed CD-11 was “crying out for help” when she became a candidate last summer and she reminded club members she has already hosted 100 community meetings while also supporting housing units in commercial corridors to combat homelessness.

Park explained LAPD needed the appropriate staffing to solve crimes and pointed to reductions in community policing as a critical concern.

When it came to water usage, she pointed out that just 20% was from residences and that the state’s agricultural economy was the chief user of water in these current drought conditions.

Club member and past delegate to the California Democratic State Convention, attorney Mike Newhouse asked that the rhetoric be reduced and that we “turn down the volume” so that issues can be discussed in a more soberly, and less combative manner.

A 25-year resident of the Westside and specifically Venice, Newhouse is married with two school-age boys who owns his own law practice while making time for music, the outdoors and volunteer community service.

A former two-term president of the Venice Neighborhood Council, Newhouse was founder of the Westside Regional Alliance of Councils (WRAC) and former zoning official dealing in land use issues.

Describing himself as a “consensus builder,” Newhouse supports adaptive reuse in high transit corridors.

Newhouse recently met with LAPD’s Chief of Police and believes that 750 new officers and getting to an 11,000 deployment strength is possible.

Newhouse, who’s educational background is in the environmental sciences claimed renewable energy as the future and spoke about how he had solar panels installed on his own home which eliminated electrical bills for his family.

Those in attendance were quite impressed with all of the CD-11 hopefuls in what looks like a crowded and competitive race with many believing a runoff is all but certain.

Prior to the CD-11 forum, club members heard from several of the Democratic hopefuls for mayor, but the club failed to make an endorsement in that race as well to succeed Mayor Eric Garcetti who is term-limited and has been nominated by President Joe Biden to be the country’s new ambassador to India.

The author is a longtime Venetian who is covering the various municipal races here in LA that effect the neighborhood of Venice. He can be reached at (310) 621-3775 or via e-mail at nantoni@mindspring.com

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