Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer said Monday that, as part of his mayoral campaign, he will seek to have a ballot measure next year to double the size of the City Council, with each council member receiving half their $223,829 salary.
Feuer first announced his position to increase the number of City Council members in September, and he reiterated that stance during a campaign speech Monday outside Los Angeles City Hall.
The L.A. City Council Redistricting Commission also called for an increase in council members in its report to the City Council last week.
Meanwhile, both Feuer and the commission called for a fully independent body to be assigned to redraw the districts in 2031, instead of the City Council itself, which receives recommendations from the commission.
“Power over council boundaries has got to be in the hands of the people — not self-interested politicians controlling the process behind the scenes to protect their power,” Feuer said.
“It’s gotten so bad that commissioners themselves support my proposal for a truly independent panel to draw up districts. And cutting council districts in half will bring council members much closer to the communities they serve, leading to the more responsive and accountable leadership voters so desperately want.”
While Los Angeles has a population of nearly 4 million people, it has only 15 council members. New York, with about double Los Angeles’ population, has 51 council members; and Chicago, which has a population of 2.7 million, has a governing body with 50 aldermen.
“L.A.’s big problems need big ideas and leaders who’ve proven they can deliver,” Feuer said.
“My Neighborhood Empowerment Plan would be the first structural reform to City Hall in a generation. And we need it now. Empowering our residents means putting them in charge of district boundaries and giving them council members who respond rapidly to their concerns over everything from homelessness to public safety to traffic gridlock.”
Feuer’s campaign speech came ahead of the City Council’s planned vote Tuesday to create an Ad Hoc Redistricting Committee to lead the council’s process of redrawing the districts.
The council will also hear a presentation Tuesday from the redistricting commission on its proposed map — which Council President Nury Martinez has already said “cannot reasonably move forward” because it “raises concerns for so many marginalized communities.”
California Common Cause, a nonprofit that seeks to advance democracy in the state, also called for the redistricting process to be removed from the hands of the council.
“A redistricting process controlled by politicians behind the scenes is fundamentally flawed,” said Jonathan Mehta Stein, executive director of California Common Cause.
“Despite our repeated calls for greater independence and transparency, the City Council has willfully ignored those calls to ensure that they and their staff can continue to manipulate the process to their advantage. This dynamic will never serve the interests of the voters. It’s time for the City of Los Angeles to follow the state and the county and form a fully independent redistricting commission.”
Feuer said he will raise an army of volunteers to collect signatures to get the measure on the ballot in the November 2022 election.
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