Bikes and politics: Choosing the best candidate in CD2

Maybe you didn’t notice that we have yet another election next week, in L.A.’s 2nd Council District.

However, unlike the recent race in CD 5, I haven’t been involved in this one.

That’s partly due to the overwhelming number of candidates in the race. It was hard enough keeping up with a race with just six candidates, five of whom eventually submitted statements discussing their stands on local bicycling issues — including the eventual winner, Paul Koretz.

And partly due to plain old-fashioned political burnout, after last fall’s election, followed shortly by two elections in CD5 and the race in state Senate District 26, eventually won by Curren Price.

Frankly, by the time it was over, I didn’t want to hear from or about any more candidates. Even if they promised to turn the Santa Monica Freeway into the city’s first bike boulevard.

Fortunately, Damien Newton over at Streetsblog stepped in to pick up the slack.

So far, he’s managed to get responses from seven of the 10 candidates — which I’ve learned is no easy task. Some offered the typical by-the-numbers, guaranteed-not-to-offend anyone answers; yet a surprising number have shown real insight into this city’s many transportation issues.

Most of the candidates oppose the mayor’s plan to trade the city’s parking meters for a bundle of cash and a player to be named later, and oppose the automatic speed limit increases currently mandated by state law — something AB 766, sponsored by one of the candidates for the CD2 seat, would address. Even if some people don’t want to talk about it.

All seven seem to support cycling, as well as other forms of alternative transportation. And all support measures to help keep riders safer on the roads, with varying degrees of insight.

Cycling activist Stephen Box also seems to have made an impression on just about all of them. But then, he has a way of doing that. Just ask Tom LaBonge.

Even if you’re as tired of the endless electoral cycle as I am, though, this election matters.

And your vote matters.

So allow me, briefly, to be obnoxiously self-indulgent and quote something I wrote during the CD5 campaign. Because it’s just as appropriate today, in this election, as it was seven months ago.

One of these 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… he or she will actually listen to you, and do something about it.

It matters. Not just for the (2nd) 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.

So take a moment to click on the links below and read what the candidates have to say. And if you live in CD2, make time to vote on Tuesday.

Assuming there’s a runoff — which is almost guaranteed with so many candidates — I’ll ask the winning candidates to get more specific about cycling issues before the next election.

Because we need to elect people who care about bicycling.

And about making this city a better place. For all of us.

Mary Benson

Chris Essel

Tamar Galatzan

Paul Krekorian

Michael McCue

Frank Sheftel

Zuma Dogg

Not responding as of Sept 17, 2009: Augusto Bisani, Jozef Thomas “Joe” Essavi, Pete Sanchez.

I won’t tell you how to vote. But considering that openness and responsiveness are two of important qualities a council member, failing to respond to Damien’s questionnaire really isn’t a good sign.


Santa Monica’s AltCar Expo will offer an expanded bike section, Oct. 2 &3 at the Civic Auditorium. The Anonymous Cyclist — whose secret identity I know, but you’ll never get it out of me — offers you a chance to write to anything you want about cycling. Anonymously, I assume. Damien drops Santa Monica from Friday’s Park(ing) Day Ride after Santa Monica drops Park(ing) Day. Alex gets the response he expected to his comments about bike theft vigilantes. The Valley gets its first Bike Kitchen/Bikerowave-style co-op. Elisa at Bike Skirt says just let her ride and don’t try to label her. Bob Mionske tells the tale of two young Canadians; one who grew up to be a cyclist, and the former Attorney General who went on to kill him. The Tucson Bike Lawyer says it actually is against the law to kill a cyclist in the bike lane, if they could only get someone to press charges. Finally, a cyclist in my home town is hit by a car; police say charges will depend on the extent of his injuries. Are they suggesting that it’s okay hit one of us, as long as you don’t kill anyone?

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