LA's Next Mayor: How Gina Viola Would Tackle The Big Issues Facing The City
LAist sent all candidates actively campaigning for L.A. Mayor the following questionnaire. Their responses have been published in full, adjusted only to fit the formatting and style of the page.
We also highlighted 12 questions that we think give you a sense of where the candidates align with your own views on issues that are important to Angelenos. And we wrapped it all up in our interactive "matchmaking" quiz, Meet Your Mayor. Curious? Take the quiz!
About the Candidate
Gina Viola spent years organizing around LGBTQ rights with AIDS Project Los Angeles. She also was a mentor and board member for the organization Girls & Gangs.
Viola has more recently turned her focus toward racial and social justice work. She lists her profession on the ballot as social activist.
Q: California is in a chronic drought. Which of the following strategies most closely reflects what you think should be done at the city level to improve individual water conservation?
A: Enforce rationing.
Q: What should the next mayor prioritize to lower the costs of converting to more sustainable electric options for homeowners and businesses? (i.e. solar power, electric vehicles, etc.)
A: We should invest in all alternatives to fossil fuels, which should be phased out at once. We should adopt the Sunrise Movement LA's Green New Deal for Los Angeles.
Q: As mayor, Eric Garcetti promised to get to 100% clean electricity for city operations by 2035 by electrifying city buildings, vehicles and public transit. Will you continue working toward this goal? Why or why not?
A: Electric is still beholden to fossil fuels. We must commit to solar and wind options to power our electric needs.
Q: Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Los Angeles. Where do you see the biggest opportunity to lower those emissions?
A: We must reduce our over-dependence on car travel in this city. It is time for us to invest in our public transportation systems and make them truly public by making them free! By properly funding and investing in public transit, Los Angeles can become a healthier city. We no longer have to be the city with the highest number of childhood asthma cases due to our current street infrastructure that pollutes Black and Brown neighborhoods at the highest rates. We should also explore moving to investment in hydrogen stations to make owning fuel cell cars a viable option for folks who are forced to commute long distances.
Q: What's the most important action the next mayor can take to help the city's most vulnerable residents deal with extreme heat?
Subsidize air conditioning, but the long-term solution is to plant more trees. Trees help keep lower temperatures by providing shade and naturally mitigate the climate crisis by reducing CO2 levels.
Q: What should the next mayor’s top priority be for addressing the city’s poor air quality, especially for those communities most impacted by pollution?
A: Ban fracking and drilling. Plant more trees and create buffer zones in residential areas and commercial vehicle routes.
Q: Climate is also affecting fires in the city and its surroundings. How would you tackle this problem?
A: Involve local indigenous communities to work with firefighters and communities to employ best practices in maintaining healthy environments.
Q: Los Angeles Municipal Code 41.18, better known as the “anti-camping law,” bans people who are unhoused from camping on public property close to locations such as schools, parks, libraries and underpasses. Should 41.18 be kept as is, repealed, or amended?
A: It should be repealed. It is a human rights violation and has been found unconstitutional twice.
Editor's note: Anti-camping laws have been found unconstitutional in other cities, but not in Los Angeles.
Q: Should the city be clearing encampments where people experiencing homelessness have taken up temporary residence? Why or why not?
A: Folks should be humanely moved into transitional housing that provides private rooms and bathrooms while we await more permanent housing to be built.
Q: I believe the primary cause of most homelessness in Los Angeles is…
A: The history of 20th Century U.S. housing policy is wealth building for white people and wealth extraction for Black people in particular, and people of color in general. Until we reckon with this fact, we will never eradicate houselessness.
Q: The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) estimates that 25% of people who are unhoused have a severe mental illness. What is your opinion on the current state of mental health support for unhoused people?
A: It is woefully underfunded.
Keep up with LA’s election
Q: Do you agree with Angelenos who say that the large number of people living outside makes the streets less safe? Why or why not?
A: It is the most unsafe for the people who have been forced to live on the streets.
Q: Should the next mayor commit to ensuring that people who are experiencing homelessness are at the table when decisions are made on the city’s homelessness policies?
A: Absolutely, and in a paid capacity!
Q: Proposition HHH is a $1.2 billion bond measure approved by voters in 2016 which supports the development of 8,000-10,000 permanent supportive housing units within the city of Los Angeles over 10 years. Has its implementation been effective?
A: Not at all. We built more congregate shelter in the form of FEMA tents then we did any housing at all.
Q: Who should build housing for the unhoused community: the city or private developers? Why?
A: The city! The public/private partnership has resulted in our tax dollars being transferred to the private sector.
Q: LAUSD is the largest school district in the country in which residents directly elect their school board and the mayor doesn’t have direct control over that board. This means the mayor has little to no influence over education in the city of Los Angeles. Should anything about this arrangement change?
A: I would like to see more of a significant partnership between the city and the LAUSD board.
Q: What role does the city play in addressing a lack of affordable child care, which is particularly acute in low-income areas?
A: We should have city funded childcare throughout the city of Los Angeles.
Equitable Economics and Housing
Q: I believe the biggest barrier to building more affordable housing is…
A: The amount of private partners who've become overly involved in the process. I've spoken to developers of low income housing who've told me [about] the difficulty that is had securing the funding from the various income streams that are beholden to private equity firms.
Q: Due to the city's emergency decree, rent increases are currently not allowed for tenants living in most apartments built before 1978. But before the pandemic, Los Angeles generally capped annual rent increases at 3% for apartments covered by local rent control. Should the city keep its existing rent control ordinance, eliminate it, or modify it?
A: We should have strengthened rent control for tenants, and all new developments should have the maximum amount of low income/no income units.
Q: Landlords also say they’ve been struggling amid rising costs, inflation over 7%, and pandemic-era restrictions such as temporary bans on rent increases and evictions. What, if anything, should the city do to help landlords?
A: Landlords were offered the greatest relief during Covid and it is unfortunate that many opted not to accept that funding until after the deadline had passed. Rent control ultimately leads to rent stabilization, which in the long run benefits small landlords as well.
Q: What statement best reflects your position on the minimum wage of $16.04 that goes into effect on July 1, 2022?
A: It’s too low. It is woefully short of what is currently needed to be safely housed in the state of California. To be a secure renter in California, wages of $24.89/hour are needed. A two-bedroom housing wage is $39.03/hour. https://reports.nlihc.org/oor/california
Q: Mayor Garcetti piloted a universal basic income program. Do you support the idea of a universal basic income in Los Angeles? Why or why not?
A: I would support this until we could increase the minimum wage to $39.03/hour.
Q: Street safety advocates say at the current pace of improvement, it will take 200 years to fulfill Vision Zero, which was supposed to be accomplished by 2035. What’s the first step to getting Vision Zero back on track?
A: The Streets For All 25x25 will have us at Vision Zero by 2025.
Q: Should the Los Angeles Police Department remain at its current size of 9,500 sworn officers, should it be downsized, or should it increase? Why?
A: It should be downsized. Have you seen the response to a person having a mental health crisis? I've routinely witnessed as many as 10 vehicles with 20 officers and even a helicopter respond. 94% of the LAPD officers do not live in the city of Los Angeles.
Q: The current LAPD budget of $1.76 billion represents almost 16% of the overall city budget. Should LAPD funding stay the same, increase or decrease? Why?
A: It should be decreased. This number above is not inclusive of the LAPD's full budget number of $3.2 billion, which is just less than half of the city's unrestricted budget. A budget of this size leaves nothing left to invest in the health and wellbeing of our city in the form of youth development, community development, childcare, healthcare and job training.
Q: Is it possible to reduce crime in the city without increasing the LAPD budget? If so, how?
A: Absolutely. Healthy, resourced communities are safe communities.
Q: A rising number of Angelenos say that Los Angeles no longer feels safe. As mayor, how would you address their fears?
A: This is a result of the media's reporting of crime. The media tries to get people to think that "crime" is always increasing. For more than 20 years, public has overestimated police reported crime and wrongly thought it increasing. This is a success of [police propaganda] and failure of journalism.
Q: Media investigations have found that LAPD officers have disproportionately stopped Black drivers, and were much more likely to search Black and Latino drivers. Do you believe racial profiling is a problem, and if so, what should be done to address it?
A: I believe that LAPD should be removed entirely from traffic stops.
Q: Would you be willing to meet with groups that have been sharply critical of the police, such as Black Lives Matter and Reform LA Jails?
Q: District Attorney George Gascón came to office on a progressive agenda that includes fewer prosecutions for low-level crimes. What statement best reflects your opinion of his agenda?
A: Broadly aligns with my beliefs.
Q: Who should be sent when a call is made about a mental health crisis?
A: An unarmed mental health professional with good de-escalation training.
Q: How would you want the police chief to address the frayed relationships between the LAPD and many of the communities it serves?
A: The current chief of police must step down. He stated that protestors were just as responsible for the death of George Floyd as the police officers who killed him. We cannot repair the community's faith in this current chief.
Editor's note: On June 1, 2020, the day after violent protests in Los Angeles, LAPD Police Chief Michel Moore said: "We didn't have protests last night. We had criminal acts. We didn't have people mourning the death of this man, George Floyd. We had people capitalizing. His death is on their hands, as much as it is those officers."