The Mar Vista Farmers Market has new visitors each Sunday, but on July 27th there was one guest who temporarily stole the limelight away from the organic produce, fresh fish vendors and cheese stalls.
City Councilman Bernard Parks, a former Los Angeles Police Department chief, strolled down Grand View Boulevard for a few hours alongside visitors to the two-year-old farmers market.
Parks is engaged in a race for county supervisor against state Sen. Mark Ridley-Thomas to succeed Yvonne Braithwaite Burke in the Second District, which includes Mar Vista.
The councilman came in second to Ridley-Thomas in the June primary, and the two men will now face off in the November general election.
Brathwaite Burke had previously endorsed Parks.
Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who represents Mar Vista, introduced Parks, whom he invited to come to the marketplace where potential constituents could get to know him.
“If we elect Bernard Parks as our supervisor, we will have a friend and we will have an advocate,” Rosendahl said.
Parks was equally complimentary to his friend Rosendahl.
“Bill works tirelessly to assist you in getting you what you need, and he certainly lets us on the council know what your needs are,” said the candidate. “One thing I always say is that I would rather vote with him than get the phone call the next week to find out why I didn’t,” Parks added, while the audience laughed and applauded.
Flanked by his wife, Bobbie, campaign aides and his council colleague Rosendahl, Parks stood in the middle of the market and addressed a variety of local and regional topics that many residents who reside on the Westside have spoken about publicly. Among the subjects that the former LAPD chief mentioned were transportation, development and public safety.
“There are a number of things that this county needs, not the least of which is transportation,” Parks began.
He talked about his vote on July 24th as a member of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority board to place a half-cent sales tax proposal on the November ballot, which would raise approximately $40 billion to continue to fund rail and bus projects that are in the works, such as the second stage of the Mid-Cities Exposition Light Rail Line, which is scheduled to reach Santa Monica by 2016.
“I’m also working with Bill to get the extension of the Green Line light rail into [Los Angeles International] airport, and to connect the Expo Line and the Green Line at some point so that we have a coherent transportation rail system.”
The candidate for supervisor suggested that the Mar Vista neighborhood join Culver City and other nearby neighborhoods to have regular discussions about regional topics that affect them all, such as traffic, transportation and development, a position that Rosendahl has advocated.
“We have to have some sort of a working relationship with them so that they understand clearly that we’re in a regional solution and not just an individual city-by-city solution,” said Parks.
Playa Vista and new developments in Marina del Rey are also creating more density that spills over into communities such as Del Rey and Mar Vista, said Parks. “Los Angeles and the county have to be in a joint, regional effort to discuss not just what impact an individual development might have, but to also take into consideration what prior developments have caused,” said Parks.
Parks also touched on Neighborhood Councils and updating their community plans.
“Your community plans are generally outdated by 20 years because no one has paid attention to them,” he noted. Recently, a council policy was established that every ten years, each neighborhood plan will be updated and Los Angeles will fund them.
“Neighborhood Councils no longer have to come in each year and ask for money,” Parks told the audience.
Preventing juvenile delinquency is a matter of providing more opportunities, the former police chief believes.
“We can’t buy our way out of our public safety issues,” said Parks. “We can’t keep building more jails and put more police officers on the streets. We have to invest a considerable amount of money into youth development. We have to give kids something to do in order for them not to do wrong.”
Afterward, Rosendahl said several people that he spoke with told him that they were very impressed with Parks.
“A lot of people came up to me afterward and said that he was very detailed in his answers and that they were very impressed by his command of the local issues,” Rosendahl said. “His comments about regional issues like transportation and development are themes that I’ve talked about, and this shows that Bernard gets it.
“When he talked about community plans and updates, that’s exactly how our people feel over here, and Bernard showed a real interest in that.”
Martin Rubin, a West Los Angeles resident who heads a local grassroots organization called Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution, was pleased that Parks talked about the difficulties that residents who live around the Santa Monica Airport experience, such as health and air quality and the need to have more federal support for general aviation airports like the Santa Monica Airport.
“I appreciate [Parks] saying that he would be proactive regarding the issues surrounding our airport,” said Rubin, who is the brother of Santa Monica activist Jerry Rubin. “I look forward to the county’s involvement, no matter who wins the supervisor’s seat.”
Jenny Tate was visiting a friend in Mar Vista and stopped to listen to Parks when he addressed the shoppers in the market.
“I didn’t even know that he was running for supervisor,” said Tate, who lives Venice. She has mixed feelings about Parks’ candidacy, since her only reference to the candidate is when he was the police chief during the Rampart police misconduct scandal.
“I wonder if he would run the county the same way that he ran the department,” Tate said.
Parks’ previous campaign forays to the Westside were to Culver City, which is also a part of the Second District, and Mar Vista for a debate with Ridley-Thomas before the primary.
At the end of his speech, Parks asked the onlookers for their vote on November 4th and added a plug for another candidate seeking public office in November.
“Vote Parks and [Barack] Obama — that’s the ticket,” he concluded.