The Poor People’s Collaborative Partnership, a non-profit organization whose main purpose is the struggle for economic justice (in America), recently hosted hundreds of potential voters and supporters of 12 of the individual candidates in the crowded field vying for the honor to fill the vacancy created by the abrupt death of beloved legislator, Juanita Millender-McDonald.
While Laura Richardson, the Los Angeles Sentinel’s endorsed candidate for this important vacancy, as well as one who has garnered support from some of the region’s most powerful and influential business and community leaders, seemed to dominate the panel Q & A’s with her confidence, familiarization with the issues and, articulate vision. Her most significant opponent, Valerie McDonald, daughter of the esteemed legislator, failed to appear.
The Poor People’s Campaign, comprised not only of the less well endowed economic members of our community, but also some of the most well known organizations whose purpose is to promote justice, equality, and fairness for all members of our society, hosted the candidate forum to give them an opportunity to tell those in attendance specifically how they would address some of the issues related to poverty.
Rev. Eric P. Lee, executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles said, “The Poor People’s Campaign is about those who did not have a choice about what they were going to do today, not about those of us who could.” The group’s common cause is to eliminate poverty.
In an unusual format where moderator Dr. Anthony Samad presented randomly selected questions to each panelist, an appropriate approach which did not give any unfair advantage to any of the 12 candidates, each aspiring District representative was given an allotted time to address the issues.
Panelists were asked how they would address the issue of returning King Drew Medical Center to full operations; how they would increase employment and bring jobs to the district; how they would eliminate poverty; how they would improve the public education system; how they would galvanize full employment among the youth; and, how they would attract quality health care professionals to the district.
In her introductory remarks, Laura Richardson said, among other things that, “I got into politics to work for people. I want to address poverty in our community, unemployment, and healthcare.”
Rev. Lee would not declare his choice for the best candidate citing his affiliation with the event’s sponsors. However, he did say that initially, “Ms. McDonald initially confirmed her participation and later backed-out of her promise to appear. She has no excuse for not being here,” he said.
Local resident, Brenda Tippins said, “I support Laura Richardson because she is more articulate and appears more aware of the issues in our community.” Sonia Frederick, another local said, “Richardson knows the issues, and sounds more dedicated to the issues than the other candidates.”
“Valerie McDonald will split the Black vote and she should step-down, especially since she did not show-up,” Frederick added. “She may get some votes out of respect and fondness for her mother but she has not demonstrated that she is prepared to address the issues.”
Another observer noted. “It is unfortunate that she has not been highly visible in the community until her mother’s passing. I think she must feel that it is her duty to run for office but, it would be more admirable for her to step aside and support someone who is equipped to continue her mother’s legacy.”
Loretta Stevens described why she supports Richardson. “I know the work she has done and I think she will continue to respond to the needs of the voters.” Rev. Woods also added his comments indicating, “There were two impressive candidates but I support Richardson.” He said.
“She displayed tenacity in her remark, she has the background and skills to make an immediate impact in the position and she has the background and academic credentials to be an effective legislator.”
Mike Gipson, local community leader summed-up the sentiments of many of the observers. “Richardson is the best candidate who has been groomed for the position. She worked for Congresswoman Millender-McDonald and she is best suited to carry-on the legacy she has established for the voters in this district. She is a fighter and makes no apologies for fighting for the people.”