Marqueece Harris-Dawson is running unopposed for L.A.’s 8th District; yet, he is still mounting an intense re-election campaign. Why? Apparently, he’s not one to rest on his laurels.
Based on his record, the first-time officeholder has done an admirable job navigating City Hall to bring services and resources to benefit the 248,000+ people in his district, which contains the largest concentration of African Americans in Los Angeles.
His achievements include authoring Proposition HHH, a $1.2 billion bond for permanent supportive housing for the homeless; igniting a $4 million reinvestment to support businesses located on Western Avenue, collaborating with municipal departments to connect 8th district residents to city jobs, and launching Destination Crenshaw, a 1.3-mile public art project that celebrates Black culture and spurs economic development along the heralded boulevard.
Also, Harris-Dawson has strengthened neighborhoods through his Community Safety Initiative, a series of activities and workshops focused on public safety and crime prevention in South L.A. In addition, he rallied residents, grass-roots organizations and city agencies to unite in promptly reporting and responding to service calls concerning illegal dumping, alleys and public lots cleanup and graffiti removal.
Despite the accomplishments of his first term, Harris-Dawson said, “We also didn’t want to rest on our laurels and past record, so we hit the ground running in 2020. We planned an aggressive campaign because our residents deserve to know about all of the work my team and I did to improve our district and bring more positive change to our neighborhoods.”
A life-long community organizer, Harris-Dawson has enjoyed his transition to the public arena, even in the midst of challenges. As he explained, “Public service has given me a deep and abiding connection to the community I love. I get to be there for people and respond to situations with the attention they deserve and be [a] part of the struggle from the inside.
“It’s a privilege to get a line or two in the great struggle of our communities, to thrive here in the United States. As an individual, you have the freedom to ignore the issues around you. As a public servant, when there’s an issue, I have to address it because I’m here to serve the people of this city,” he said.
However, serving the people can often take more time than expected, admitted Harris-Dawson. The mammoth size of Los Angeles city government – 40+ departments and 40,000+ employees – requires great patience to understand and traverse in order to bring a project to fruition.
While acknowledging “the slow pace” of government, Harris-Dawson noted, “We’ve overcome that by building a smart and passionate team that doesn’t take no for an answer and won’t allow grass to grow underfoot. Not only my staff, but we also have a great team of community leaders and engaged residents that work with us and are always there with encouragement, advice and accountability. Together, we push the system as far and as fast as it can possibly go.”
Recognizing the success of using that approach, Harris-Dawson will likely employ it during his next term where he aims to continue his focus on addressing homelessness and the housing crisis in L.A., and improving opportunities for his constituents.
“We need sustainable solutions to overcome that (homelessness and housing) as a city,” he insisted. “We also need to ensure that a vibrant African American community is at the forefront of any discussion about the future of Los Angeles and that new economic opportunities benefit our communities.”