Candidate Profile: Frederick Sutton pushes ‘hometown candidate’ status in campaign for 11th Council District
By Vince Echavaria
Having spent the majority of his life as a Westsider, Frederick Sutton believes he has the unique perspective to know how to tackle the diverse issues facing local communities.
Sutton, a West Los Angeles resident who attended schools in Pacific Palisades and Brentwood as a youth, returned to the Westside after graduating from the University of Arizona and later studying foreign policy at American University in Washington, D.C., where he worked for the speaker of the House of Representatives.
When settling again in his home town, Sutton said he began to notice a variety of changes since the days he was growing up that were impacting local neighborhoods. He felt that the quality of life in Los Angeles was slowly deteriorating, infrastructure is falling apart and opportunity is leaving, and he wanted to do something about that.
Hoping to be a part of the solution to fix such problems, Sutton is seeking the Los Angeles City Council 11th District seat currently represented by Councilman Bill Rosendahl in the March 5 municipal primary. He is vying to represent the coastal district against challengers Tina Hess, Odysseus Bostick and Rosendahl’s chief of staff, Mike Bonin.
“To represent my home district would be the greatest honor to carry on the tradition of representative government,” said Sutton, who is identified as a community advocate on the ballot.
Prior to initiating his campaign, Sutton worked in corporate real estate and local office leasing. He was the youngest serving member on the city attorney’s transition staff in 2009 and is a former member of the West Los Angeles Neighborhood Council.
Sutton touts that he knows the district “intimately” as a longtime resident, and he believes it will take someone with fresh ideas to be able to take on the wide range of challenges facing Westside communities.
“Given that life experience here combined with my business background and community involvement allows me to bring different and new ideas to the table, as well as fresh perspective,” Sutton said. “I’m running to introduce what I believe are common sense and fresh ideas into the council chamber, on everything from sidewalks to balancing the budget.”
As an example, Sutton noted that a city report stated that it would cost millions of dollars for the city to track all of the areas where there are problematic sidewalks. Sutton said he would pledge to donate 20 percent of his salary as a councilman toward sidewalk repair, calling for residents, neighborhood groups and volunteers to get involved and use available technology to identify sidewalks in need of repair using far less money.
“We have these problems with our services so we need to start thinking outside of the box,” he said.
The five key areas Sutton said he would focus on as the next council representative include changing the political culture in City Hall, restoring core services – infrastructure and public safety, improving quality of life, serious budget reform, and bringing jobs back to Los Angeles.
Sutton noted that many council seats are being sought by elected officials or political aides, but he believes the best way to introduce innovative solutions to problems is to have a representative that is not tied to special interests.
As a way to address one of the district’s primary challenges of traffic, Sutton proposes to assign a traffic engineer on staff who will work solely on local traffic mitigation issues. Other solutions could include exploring traffic signal synchronization and one-way boulevards, he said.
Sutton said he supports updating and modernizing Los Angeles International Airport, including bringing light rail into the airport. In regards to the controversial plan for separating the LAX north runways by 260 feet, which has been strongly opposed by Westchester-Playa del Rey residents, Sutton opposes relocating the northernmost runway and believes a plan can be considered that accommodates the airport’s safety concerns while protecting residents.
Stressing that the local councilperson has only one vote, Sutton says the representative needs to raise awareness of the community concerns to other parts of the city.
“The big thing is raising awareness to everyone on the council and everyone in the city of what we know in our backyard,” he said. “Ultimately, if it goes through despite the protests, you have to have built-in assurances that any way possible there’s not going to be any taking of private land.”
Sutton believes Rosendahl’s office has tried everything at its disposal to address the problems of homelessness, and the candidate would look to focus on getting non-profits to work in partnership with the city to provide housing and resources for the homeless.
The four 11th District candidates may have many of the same goals but they also have different focuses moving forward, said Sutton, who will look to continue some effective programs from Rosendahl’s terms.
“I want to expand on the good and start to change the focus where it’s lacking to where I believe it primarily needs to be right now,” he said.