Sunday, November 28, 2021
Gardena’s Mayor Pro Tem Mark Henderson Wants to Move ‘Freeway City’ Forward
By Brandon I. Brooks, Managing Editor 
Published March 1, 2017



Mark Henderson (LA Sentinel photo)

“Government works, if you work it,” Gardena’s Mayor Pro Tem Mark Henderson told the Sentinel in a recent interview.

His goal as the “freeway city’s” mayor is to move the city forward in education, economics and quality of life.

“Gardena is the freeway city but I want to make sure that instead of people using the freeways to leave, people are making Gardena their destination. Gardena should be a place to live, work and play…”


Henderson was elected to Gardena’s city council in 2015 but stepped up to the mayor’s seat shortly after embattled Mayor Paul Tanaka of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department resigned last summer because of legal issues. Since then, he has taken steps to ensure that residents have more input in community decisions and that city government is transparent. Those two things , he said, will foster success relevant to him reaching his goals for the city.

“The goal for me is to make sure everybody has a seat at the table,” Henderson said.

“A lot of times in small communities there’s a feeling of disconnect between the people and government. My goal as mayor is to make sure that whomever the people elect that we find where our agendas are linked and work together as a collective where we’re all successful.”

With a diverse population of about 62,000 people of African American, Asian, Latino and Caucasian descent, Gardena was incorporated into Los Angeles County in 1930.

“Gardena is part of L.A. County and the county is changing in regards to demographics and technology, etc.,” Henderson explained.

“The goal is to make sure that Gardena is not left behind in regards to the economic developments happening in the cities around us.


The way Carson, Inglewood, Torrance and South L.A. are developing… Gardena is right in the center…”

To that end, he has developed budget and brief meetings where residents are privy to their city’s fiscal standing for a two year period.

“I want to have an informed electorate so that they can determine the best people for leadership,” Henderson said.

“[As far as environmental justice] I want to make sure we’ve identified these [blighted] locations so that we figure out how we work with grant funding and different mechanisms to alleviate them.”

Henderson will serve as acting mayor until the city’s election on March 7.

Before the council, he served the city of Gardena as an appointed member of the Planning and Environmental Quality Commission, from 2010 to 2013. Prior to that, he served as a Member-at-Large for the City of Gardena Rent Mediation Board. In that role he worked to ensure that landlord and tenant discussions were civil, ended with both parties satisfied, and that the most appropriate measures were executed.

Mark Henderson, Mayor Pro-Tem City of Gardena

Mark Henderson, Mayor Pro-Tem City of Gardena

He later became a community leader within the Gardena Environmental Justice Committee, whose primary purpose is to heighten community awareness regarding long-standing environmental issues and to create opportunities to develop and propose strategies to city officials and staff while maintaining open dialogue prior to the implementation of environmental land reuse policies.

“When I ran for council [part of] my platform was to work on environmental justice in our community – the city of Gardena has about 60 or so blighted or contaminated land sites- as well as work on economic development,” said Henderson.

“Since being elected I’ve actively pursued that.”

Henderson was born in Harbor City, CA, and was raised in Los Angeles County. After completing his military service in the U.S. Navy, he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Telecommunications Management from DeVry University, a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Redlands, and a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership from the University of La Verne. He is currently an administrator at Los Angeles Pierce College and has been with the Los Angeles Community College District since 2002. He has held previous leadership roles for municipalities in California. In 2014 the Center for Digital Education recognized him as a Top 30 Technologist, Transformer, and Trailblazer.


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