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Meet The Candidates: Councilmember Tom LaBonge, Council District 4

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Councilmember Tom LaBonge of Council District 4


Councilmember Tom LaBonge of Council District 4
To prepare for the upcoming March 8, 2011 elections, LAist has contacted each candidate on the City of L.A.'s Official Candidate List to participate in a Q&A. All candidates received the same set of questions, with the exception of West Hollywood city council candidates, who received a WeHo-specific list of questions. LAist does not endorse political candidates, and responses are posted in the order they are received.In this edition of "Meet the Candidates," we hear from Council District 4 incumbent Councilmbember Tom LaBonge (Facebook). The district includes Atwater Village, Griffith Park, Hollywood, Los Feliz, Miracle Mile, North Hollywood, Silver Lake, Studio City and Toluca Lake.

Other candidates in the March 8, 2011 CD10 race are Stephen Box and Tomás O'Grady. Not sure about your district? See the map to find out if your neighborhood is within district boundaries.

Map courtesy of candidate

Tell us about your background and what you'll bring to the table in City Hall. What makes you different from the other candidates, and what qualifies you to represent your district?

I offer the residents of the 4th district experience and a proven record of service. I have lived in the 4th District all my life and I have served the City of Los Angeles as a Councilmember and Council Deputy since 1976.

My passion for service to the constituents of the 4th council district, and to all Angelenos, is to provide leadership, help and guidance in matters of civic life that will promote healthy neighborhoods and foster community spirit. I believe we should have sense of pride in being residents of this great City of Los Angeles. My staff and I share a philosophy of teamwork and collaboration that emphasizes responsiveness, compassion, professionalism and a desire to provide the best in city services for the equal benefit of all residents. I’m very proud of the accomplishments we’ve made in partnership with the residents of my district.

What are your top priorities for your district? How do you plan on tackling them?

Without a doubt, the first priority for the district is public safety, and I'm proud of the gains we've made in this area during my time on the Council. I’ve worked hard to partner with law enforcement and communities on Neighborhood Watch and block captain programs. Part of our district was named the United States’ safest big city neighborhood. I'm very honored to be endorsed for re-election by 9,950 Police Officers and 3,600 Firefighters.

Our other top priorities for the district are jobs and the environment. On jobs, I've helped reform the City's business tax, which has enhanced employers' ability to make new hires. I'm proud to have endorsements from many Chamber of Commerce leaders in my district. On the environment, I've been a strong supporter of L.A.'s parks and I've pushed for more renewable energy generation at LADWP. I stood up to developers to save Cahuenga Peak and expanding Griffith Park by 138 acres. This commitment earned me the support of the L.A. League of Conservation Voters.

How would you address the city's projected $350 million budget deficit?

We have to take bold steps to restore Los Angeles’ long-term financial health. We are going to have to prioritize core services such as public safety, public works and street services. Beyond that, we’re going to need to make some significant sacrifices.

I believe that everyone in the city, including our employees, need to be willing to come to the table ready to make real sacrifices. The picture is grim. We are going to have to re-engineer the way the city works and reduce overhead, like many other employers in the region. Specifically, I believe we should consolidate functions among city departments and implement a 32-hour work week for workers providing non-essential services.

How do you plan on working with your constituents in addressing their concerns?

My door has always been open to every constituent of the 4th district. Anyone who knows me knows that I take pride in collaboration and partnerships.

In the last few years, we've worked to interact with the residents of the district via social media - Facebook, primarily. That's proven to be a powerful tool for sharing information and talking to constituents.

Public transportation is an important issue for LAist readers. What role should public transportation have in LA?

Public transportation should be a front-and-center issue for every L.A. resident. We all need to pitch in to address our transportation problems, and lifestyle changes are a big piece of the puzzle. We need to walk and bicycle whenever we can and we need to use the subway as well as services such as DASH. As a MTA board member I have been a huge advocate for the subway system and its expansion. I want to see the Subway extended not only down Wilshire to the sea, but to the great community we have at U.S.C.

The City Council has had to revisit the medical marijuana ordinance repeatedly. How would you like to see the medical marijuana issue addressed?

We need to address the issue by making sure that medical marijuana dispensaries work as intended. They should only serve patients who are suffering from serious illnesses and who have received a valid prescription from a medical doctor. Such patients deserve safe access to medicine in accordance with the state law approved by the voters of California.

What are your priorities for development and planning?

I have worked hard to protect the unique character of the 4th district. As mentioned in the question about the district's priorities, I'm very proud of the recent effort to save the Hollywood sign from developers by expanding Griffith Park to include Cahuenga Peak.

I am in favor of carefully controlled, responsible development for L.A. neighborhoods. It's the councilmember's job to provide balance: we need to create jobs and expand the city's stock of affordable housing, but not at the expense of the great neighborhoods that make L.A. the wonderful city that it is. Fundamentally, I think that developers who want to do business with the City must reach out to local neighborhood councils and neighborhood associations for support if they want approvals for their projects.

Endorsements (provided by candidate):


  • L.A. League of Conservation Voters
  • Los Angeles County Democratic Party
  • Planned Parenthood Los Angeles
  • 3,600 LAFD Firefighters (UFLAC)
  • 9,950 LAPD Police Officers (LAPPL)
  • Stonewall Democrats
  • Los Angeles County Young Democrats
  • Governor Jerry Brown
  • Congressman Howard Berman
  • State Controller John Chiang
  • State Senator Carol Liu
  • State Assemblyman Mike Feuer
  • State Assemblyman Mike Gatto
  • Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky
  • Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas
  • Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina
  • Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel
  • Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti
  • Former Mayor Richard Riordan

LAist does not endorse political candidates. All candidates from the City of L.A.'s Official Candidate List were contacted to participate and were given the same set of questions, with the exception of West Hollywood candidates, who were sent a WeHo-specific list of questions.