Councilman Curren Price is not an easy man to keep up with these days. In preparing to do this interview we had to re-schedule the interview 3 times. Not because he was not willing to sit down with the Sentinel for the interview, but because he had much more pressing issues he had to deal with before he was able to carve 30 minutes out of his tireless schedule to sit down and answer questions.
The truth is Councilman Price, who is 23 months into his first term, as the councilman of what he has termed “The New 9th District has been the leading advocate on the Los Angeles City Council to raise the minimum wage.
However, while he believes that raising the minimum wage is the best thing for his constituents and for all of the working people in Los Angeles, he also understands those small businesses and the opponents of the proposal have a right to be heard and their input needs to be considered as well.
Price is leading the charge for the poor and disenfranchised in his district, which is considered the have the most poverty.
“It is about improving the quality of life for all of Los Angeles. Unfortunately, the poverty crisis that is facing all of Los Angeles and our nation as a whole disproportionately affects people of color and we have to find ways to address this issue. This is about improving their quality of life,” Price explained.
The Councilman is fighting for a two-layered increase to the minimum wage. He is fighting to have the city’s minimum wage increased to $13.25 by 2017 and raised to $15.25 by 2019. Price believes this is the best way to improve the lives of many in his district. Price says this raise will drastically change the lives of many in his community those who he says are commonly referred to as “the working poor”. Price says when he first made the proposal several businesses complained.
That is why he asked the city’s legislative office to commission a study and seek comments and concerns from the business community, and local labor. Price says, “We need to understand what impact these raises will have on business”. Price has been running around the city participating in local hearings to get information in support of this wage increase. He has held hearings throughout the city, one was held at WLCAC in Watts, a hearing was held at the Museum of Tolerance on the West Side, another in the Van Nuys and one in East Los Angeles. Price believes that the only way to get this done is to get input from everyone and he has traveled the city talking to stake holders making sure that he has united support throughout Los Angeles. Price has also been able to rally his fellow councilmembers to support this effort. Price is quick to point out that he has not been in this fight alone, “I have had great support from my colleagues on the council, Council President Herb Wesson and I have a great relationship and we always try and make sure the community is best served in everything we do”. On the minimum wage issue Price has also had great support from Councilmember Gil Cedillo, Nury Martinez and Joe Buscaino. “These members have helped me carry the ball and given remarkable support and insight into driving this initiative home”.
While Price is hard at work trying to raise the minimum wage, this is not his only battle. He led a charge to try for a second time to secure Promise Zone funding for South Los Angeles. Unfortunately, South Los Angeles was again left out of the funding Price remains undeterred. “While I am disappointed that we did not receive funding, I remain committed to keeping together the coalition of organizations and the programs that this group has put together to make South Los Angeles a better and stronger community”.
The New 9th District also has launched a Clean and Green Initiative under Councilman Price. “We are cleaning up alleys, we have planted more trees, we have removed 3000 tons of extra trash from our neighborhoods and Central Avenue has gone under a major revitalization. We are working with the Mayors Office to bring more investment into the 9th District because our needs are so great. “Price says you can’t just take the cities funding and divide it by 15 because certain parts of the city have a greater need than other parts. I have gotten the Mayor Garcetti to agree to drive funding to our community, allocating more resources from DWP and other city services to improve our districts infrastructure.
The 9th District also suffers from one of the highest unemployment rates in the city with over 12% of his residents looking for work. Price believes that to fix this problem “we need to ban the box”. We need to remove the question from our application process that ask have you ever been convicted of a crime? Not that the question can’t be asked during the interview, but it should not eliminate a person from at least receiving consideration. The State has already removed this from their application Price feels the city could do the same. Price is also a supporter of street vending services. He believes that the city needs to regulate it, but that the city should also support it. “ Food Trucks have been a huge success in some communities, street vendors could be the same. We need to find ways to support start up entrepreneurism and street vending is one of the ways we can achieve this.”
Anyone who has driven and spent time in the New 9th District can easily see that the district is improving, but Price is quick to state, “We still have a long way to go”. But he encourages everyone to come out and get involved, to come to the 20th Annual Central Jazz Festival, to come out to Taste of Soul, to visit some of the new business near the Dunbar Hotel Development or come to the new shopping center on Central Ave. and Slauson Ave. What anyone who has visited the district over the past two years understands is that while the challenges may be many Price is Right for the task.