Los Angeles' new city council district lines have recently gone into effect after months of redistricting meetings, community discussions and map drafts. Councilwoman Jan Perry, whose district originally included Downtown and South L.A., has continually voiced her objections to the new map.
She said that by removing DTLA from her area, the map was effectively stripping her district of the "economic engine" that has kept the region going for 40 years.
"It's not a new district, it's a district that's been hacked in half," Perry said of her newly defined area.
She added that luckily, many of the projects she had started were already "in the pipeline," so they will continue to grow and develop even without the resources from Downtown. But going forward, Perry said she will have to be a lot more innovative when it terms to securing funding and investments.
"Absolutely-- we're going to have to do things a lot differently," she said.
Perry reflected on some of her South L.A. accomplishments that she was most proud of. The councilwoman cited the newly opened ten-acre park that was built in what used to be a bus yard on 54th and Avalon streets, as well as a soon-to-be-open "inter-generational" housing project on Vermont Avenue that's focused on the growing demographic of grandparents raising grandchildren.
As far as reflecting on the whole redistricting process, Perry said; "I never felt that it would be as Draconian as it was." She mentioned that some of her colleagues, who are also running for higher office, will have to return to the same communities they may have overlooked or alienated with the redrawing of the maps, and that those residents will remember what was done to them and their communities.
"At some point they will have to come to South L.A. and ask for their vote," said Perry.
Perry hits her term limit as a councilwoman next year, and is in the running to be L.A.'s next mayor. She said that her experience working in South L.A. has taught her that, "no matter where you live, everyone wants the same thing." They want their trees trimmed, their sidewalks cleaned and want their kids to be safe -- and Perry said she will merely apply these principles on a citywide basis.
Perry's advice for her successor?
"Your first and only concern is to serve the needs of these people in the district," she said, cautioning the future councilmember not to get into "transactional politics" and to focus on "quality of life services" (such as jobs and transportation) to make sure residents get what they need. Perry went on to say that the Ninth District is very difficult to serve because the problems are "unrelenting."
"This is not a job where you'll get to spend a lot of time socializing," Perry said. "You have to spend a lot of time listening to people when they're upset and helping them with their problems."