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Wesson, Price And Harris-Dawson Fighting Together For A Better Los Angeles
By Brandon I. Brooks, Managing Editor 
Published March 8, 2018

(l-r): Councilman Curren Price, Council President Herb Wesson, and Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson. (courtesy photo)

“The three of us have one major goal,” Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson told the Sentinel in a recent interview about his relationship with fellow African American City Council members, Curren Price and Marqueece Harris-Dawson and their collective effort to help underserved constituents.

“That goal is to deliver services to the people we represent, the things they want, need and expect.”

Recently, the trio introduced a motion to study the feasibility of a Neighborhood Stabilization Program to address the displacement of poor and working families and small businesses in South Los Angeles. The motion cites a recent development boom and the disproportionate impact of the affordable housing crisis on Black residents as significant threats to the stability of South Los Angeles neighborhoods.

Councilman Harris-Dawson (courtesy photo)

“South Los Angeles is one of the last affordable communities in LA, with the largest concentrations of African Americans in the city,” said Harris-Dawson.

“Prices are far outpacing incomes and we still have a painfully high unemployment rate, we need to act now.”

The politicians represent the eighth (Harris-Dawson), ninth (Price) and tenth (Wesson) council districts of Los Angeles, areas where a large number of their constituents face a lot of the same challenges.  Housing insecurity, unemployment and lack of inclusion in the city’s growth and development are what the councilmen are trying mitigate, they said.   But rather than compete for resources, they have decided that working together for a more common cause is a better way to help those they represent.

“Common sense will tell you, [that it’s better] if the three of us collaborate,” Wesson said.

“And so, we all get together and collaborate. We think that it’s important that the three of us strategize on how to make our community better. We are part of a group of other Belected officials who meet on a quarterly basis…”

That idea, he said, was borne of Congresswoman Karen Bass.

“So about four times a year, just about every African American elected official in the southern region of this state and we get together for dinner and share various things that are going on in the community.”

Councilman Price (courtesy photo)

Harris-Dawson and Price agree that working together maximizes the councilmen’s power.

“One of the things that residents always point out to us is, ‘we don’t wake up in the morning with consciousness about where the lines are between each district…’ It’s all the community for them,” Harris-Dawson explained.

“It’s important and it’s their expectation that we work together. I’m happy that it’s an expectation that we’re meeting.

“Take an issue like airplane noise for example. That’s an issue that one council person by themselves… that wouldn’t make sense that they would be able to move that. The three of us together… since all of our constituents have that as an issue in one area or another, working together, we can actually move something significant.”

“And so, those are the kinds of real material results that you see as a result of our collaboration.”

Going forward, the councilmembers said they will collaborate now, on making sure that the underserved get a better foothold as residents of Los Angeles, by having opportunities to take part in new economic developments like construction and the cannabis industry.

“Regardless of how you feel about cannabis, our bosses (the voters of this state) instructed us to regulate this new industry,” Wesson explained.

Council President Wesson (courtesy photo)

“One of the priorities for us is based on this failed war on drugs, basically a war on Blacks and Latinos. We felt it important that as this industry emerges, that Blacks and Latinos and women, to get into this business if they choose to.

“This is a business that is going to be booming and pretty soon, people will not make jokes about it. We recognize, if we did not get our people in from the very beginning, then it would be another industry making billions of dollars where we would not reap any benefits.”

Getting people involved in the city’s revitalization efforts is also important, they said.

“I’m real sensitive to creating jobs and economic opportunities, especially with $3 billion in investments since 2013,” said Price.

“I’m excited about the work that’s going on in Expo Park for example, the soccer stadium, the Lucas Museum… On all of these, with the help of my colleagues, we have strong hiring requirements.

“We want to make sure that folks are taking part in these jobs. We see what’s happening downtown, we want the same thing to occur in South L.A.”

“One of the most important things about our relationship is making sure these things are done in a way where Black folks can have full participation,” Harris-Dawson said.

“About 49 percent of the homeless population is African American. We’re building a lot of homeless housing. We have to pay attention to who gets into housing, who gets to build it, who gets to provide services…”

The three councilmen said they are close and when you see them together, they are representing true comraderie within the Council chambers.

“One thing I think we have for each other is mutual respect,” Harris-Dawson told the Sentinel.

“And,” said Price, “Marqueece and I are fortunate to have a president who is not afraid to share power.”

Added Wesson, “because we’re so close, when you’re looking at me [you’re also looking at the others]. We go into every council meeting with three… If you put the three of us in a room for thirty minutes, we are going to come out united.”

“I think at the end of the day, all people want to be led by smart people, courageous people and people who are not afraid to fail. I hope the three of us represent that.”

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