When discussing her qualifications for representing the diverse communities on the Westside, Tina Hess points to her 25 years as a prosecutor in the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office.
Hess, who most recently has served as the office’s deputy chief of the complex and special litigation division, says her time as a prosecutor has taught her how to solve various problems.
A former supervisor of the city attorney’s neighborhood prosecutor program, which assigns a prosecutor to every city police station, Hess said she has worked with every City Council district office and at each of the Los Angeles police divisions. Her experience includes addressing issues related to the environment as a supervisor for the city attorney’s environmental prosecutions.
Hoping to apply those skills and knowledge acquired by working throughout the city, Hess is seeking the 11th District council seat currently represented by Councilman Bill Rosendahl.
“I think 25 years in the city attorney’s office has certainly provided me with the experience to know the city,” said Hess, who has lived in Del Rey for seven years and previously resided in Mar Vista.
“I know the issues that our communities face. I’ve spent 25 years representing the people and now I want to bring those skills to represent the residents of the 11th District.”
She is vying for the coastal district seat against Frederick Sutton, Odysseus Bostick and Rosendahl’s chief of staff, Mike Bonin, in the March 5 municipal primary.
Hess notes that 11th District communities, such as Brentwood, Venice, Del Rey, Playa del Rey and Westchester, are very distinct and individual, with neighborhoods having differences in priorities and concerns.
With the potential for the City Council to be entirely represented by men later this year, Hess hopes to ensure that women have a voice on the council. She believes that the city government also needs to have a voice from outside the political realm, as many council seats are being sought by elected officials or political aides.
“I think we can do better than recycled politicians; I think we deserve more than that,” said Hess, who has no prior political experience. “The challenges we face in terms of the budget, public safety and emergency preparedness really demand that we have new perspective and new ideas.”
Some of the top concerns she has heard from district residents include traffic/congestion, overdevelopment, homeless issues, Los Angeles International Airport projects and public safety. In regards to public safety, Hess believes cities need to do a better job in educating their citizens on how to prepare for a natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy that ravaged East Coast communities.
The most significant challenge facing the city is the budget, she says, and officials need to prioritize core functions such as public safety and updating infrastructure. The city needs to tackle its budget challenges by finding ways to increase revenue, eliminating departmental inefficiencies and pursuing serious pension reform, she said.
One of the primary challenges for Westside communities has been homelessness, and Hess believes the city should push the federal government to provide more housing for local veterans, as well as bring service providers to the table for solutions. At the same time, residents should be protected from impacts of RVs lining their streets, said Hess, who supported Rosendahl’s proposal for designated areas for people living in RVs to park overnight in concept.
The modernization of LAX has been a controversial issue particularly for many residents of Westchester-Playa del Rey, who have strongly opposed a plan approved by the Board of Airport Commissioners to move the northernmost runway closer toward the communities. Rosendahl has stood by the concerned residents, and Hess says she would support the proposal that does not separate the north runways, while bringing the airport facilities into the 21st century.
“In the event that moving the runway north is inevitable, then I think it’s the council person’s role to work with the community and the powers that be and mitigate to the extent that we can the impact on our residents,” she said.
Another concern for Westsiders, primarily in areas like Venice Beach and along Abbot Kinney Boulevard, has been a lack of parking, something Hess feels could be mitigated with public parking structures that could help reduce drive-around traffic.
Of the four primary candidates, Bonin, who has been Rosendahl’s chief of staff throughout his two terms, has garnered support from numerous elected officials and community organizations. Hess notes she has a difference in priorities to Bonin, hoping to preserve the character of neighborhoods by ensuring developers comply with certain conditions and that zoning laws are enforced.
“I present a very direct alternative to the status quo,” Hess said.
“If people are happy with the way things are in this district then they should elect Mike. If they want change, want to make sure their communities are safe and that we do everything we can to preserve the nature of our neighborhoods then they should look to me.”