Los Angeles City Councilman-elect Marqueece Harris-Dawson said Wednesday even he was stunned by the low turnout during Tuesday’s election, during which voters chose him to succeed termed-out Councilman Bernard Parks in the 8th District.
While the preliminary turnout citywide was 8.6 percent — a number that’s expected to climb up to about 11 percent once all ballots are counted — the voter turnout was even lower in the South Los Angeles-based 8th District race. According to the City Clerk’s Office, 7.6 percent, or 9,629 people out of 126,023 registered voters in the district, cast ballots.
Harris-Dawson — running against three other people — garnered 5,891 of those votes. He said he was confident he would avoid a runoff election, but he was not expecting the dismal turnout.
“We were stunned,” he said, adding that while Tuesday’s passage of two measures aimed at boosting turnout by holding elections at the same time as state and federal elections might help, more could be done to improve voter engagement.
He said one way to boost voter interest is reminding residents about the job of a City Council, which includes being responsible for basic services such as police and tree-trimming, issues that some residents he met attributed to members of Congress, the state Senate or the governor.
Harris-Dawson, a former executive director of a nonprofit founded by Rep. Karen Bass to improve economic conditions in South Los Angeles communities, said he plans to conduct a listening tour around the district before assuming office July 1, meeting with neighborhood councils, church groups, small business groups and other community organizations.
He said as he builds a staff and a transition team around various issues, he will also develop and make public a strategy plan outlining goals for his first 12 months in office.
Among the issues he hopes to tackle include boosting investment in the district’s commercial areas, tackling sex-trafficking on Western Boulevard and keeping businesses along Crenshaw Boulevard in business while a light rail line is being built.
Harris-Dawson attended today’s City Council meeting, greeted his future colleagues and talked to Mayor Eric Garcetti.
— City News Service
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: