Council District 5 — why does it matter?

For almost a week now, I’ve let the candidates for L.A.’s 5th City Council District write my blog for me — and I’ve been assured there’s at least one more statement from a candidate on its way.

I feel kind of like Tom Sawyer, when he convinced everyone else to paint the fence for him. They do the work, I get the week off.

However, I do feel a dangerously high level of snarky comments building up, which I fear may escape in a massive eruption of unbridled wit and sarcasm unless I find some socially acceptable outlet. So you may want to hide the women and children until this is over. Unless you are a woman and/or child, in which case you’re on your own.

But why does all this even matter?

Chances are, if you live outside CD5, you may think this election doesn’t effect you. And even if you do live inside the boundaries of the district, you may not think that who gets elected really matters — after all, it’s not like this city is the poster child for functional government. Although the state legislature is making it look better with every passing day.

But as Damien Newton pointed out in linking to this series, whoever gets elected will represent a big step up over our existing non-responsive representative. The simple fact that these three candidates took time out from their busy campaigns to state their positions on bicycling speaks volumes about how seriously they take these issues, and how responsive they would be in office.

One of these six people will be the one we turn to when we need to address the lack of cycling infrastructure in this city. He or she will also be responsible, along with the other members of the council, for turning the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights from mere words to meaningful change, as well as addressing the future of transportation — and quality of life — in this city. And by extension, for every city in the surrounding metro area.

This same person will be the one you’ll reach out to whenever you have a problem or concern in this district — and hope that, unlike the current occupant of the office, he or she will actually listen to you, and do something about it.

It matters. Not just for the 5th District, but for the 4th, 12th and 15th. And every other district, and for every other cyclist, in the city.

In a race with this many candidates, and the notoriously low voter turnout in this city’s local elections, a single vote could actually make a difference.

Your vote matters. Your support matters.

It all matters.

No really, it does.


Indiana considers a new bicycle safety law, including making it illegal to harass or impede a cyclist and requiring at least three feet of clearance when passing a bike. A similar measure has just passed the Colorado Senate, despite opposition from what may be the nation’s most anti-bike sheriff — who for some inexplicable reason, doesn’t believe his officers are capable of understanding the concept of one yard. (Note to self: must resist the urge to move back just to vote against this idiot.) The nation’s cyclists are urged to fight for our share of the stimulus funds before the gas-burners get it all, while Bay Area riders get a new off-road bikeway above an existing BART tunnel after nearly two decades of trying.

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