Councilmember Jose Huizar
As a newly-appointed member of the Metro Board of Directors, Councilman Jose Huizar accompanied Councilman Herb Wesson on his first official trip to the Sentinel.By Yussuf J. SimmondsSentinel Assistant Managing Editor Errica DotsonSentinel News WriterLos Angeles City Councilmember Jose Huizar was recently appointed to the Metro Board of Directors, the 14-member board that decides the transportation issues for the Los Angeles County. Though Huizar is the city council member of the 14th district, his position on the board transcends the geographical boundaries of his district. Councilman Herb Wesson (CD-10), accompanied Huizar to the Sentinel to introduce him to the community for whose transportation issues he will be responsible. Huizar's plans and efforts received a ringing endorsement and a solid vote of confidence from Wesson."Jose is going to do a very good job and the reason why he is going to do a good job is because of his commitment," Wesson stated, who as an assembly member had previously been contacted by Huizar for assistance on several matters concerning the youth of Los Angeles County."From the Eastside Gold Line extension in Boyle Heights to the Valley Boulevard bridge in El Sereno, it's my plan to bring back the beloved streetcar back to Downtown Los Angeles," Huizar said, "I have been actively engaged in major transportation issues throughout my time in office and relish the opportunity to do more."Wesson continued, "It takes an intelligent and committed individual to get on this MTA board because it's more than a notion. And I think that more importantly, Jose is an example... he is a symbol, a role model that people can touch and feel, and that's what we need."Ushering change into the inner city to improve the quality of life for all is the goal and priority of Councilmember Huizar. From working for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), to enhancing opportunities to the people of Boyle Heights and taking a seat on the Metro Board, Councilman Huizar is effectively bridging the gap from poverty to opportunity."For me, as a young kid who grew up in the streets of LA, if it wasn't for the nonprofits, if it wasn't for the services I received as a kid, who knows what would have happened to me," Huizar said. "Thankfully, there were some supportive adults in my life that said, 'Hey, why don't you put your talent to good use.'"Huizar is passionate about making life easier for those who are coming behind him, especially today's youth. As a product of the inner city and Princeton University, he exemplifies what hard work can accomplish, regardless of your background. "I served four years on the (L.A.) Board of Education and one of my priorities was to serve our children. To me, they need our support, so I am bringing the passion that I had for supporting our young people at LAUSD into the city and working with my brother, Herb Wesson, to make sure the young people have opportunities, that they have hope and I think we're doing that." In addition to excellence in education, Huizar is also committed to quality health services and access to transportation which justifies his appointment to the Metro Board."Good transportation brings people [who would otherwise be segregated] together," Huizar said, "Economic development, jobs, and health benefits, which allows parents to take care of their families, that's what I hope to accomplish."He continued, "One of the reasons I got on the Metro Board was to ensure that public transportation is accessible and affordable to all people in Los Angeles. And secondly, that the estimated $40 billion in funds that were passed with Measure R will be used to build better public transportation as long as we use it in a smart and efficient way that benefit local communities." Huizar brings a wealth of varied experience to the table. LAUSD has a larger budget than the city of LA and so does Metro and they are both single issue focused. But the city deals with many things from budget, youth issues, public safety and the environment. You have to be a jack-of-all-trades. Working in these environments prior to serving on the Metro Board makes him an asset.As councilman, Huizar is working hard to improve the quality of life in his Boyle Heights district and to connect the dots with the rest of the city. As one of the Metro Board of Directors, he is in a unique position working on transportation issues to accomplish his immediate goals. Projects like the Expo Line are slated to add to his responsibilities in addition to the existing gang problem, high rates of poverty and foreclosures, that is a part of his every day array of issues. Currently, he is working on a Healthy City Initiative, which will assess the needs of the community, determine the scope of the services and target the areas where the most help can be delivered and remedies provided in meaningful and efficient ways. This is a thumbnail sketch of the councilman's primary focus.