Newly elected Los Angeles City Councilman John Lee took the oath of office Friday, saying it’s “a little weird” sitting on the other side of the Council Chamber.
“For 23 years, I’ve been standing back there” as a staff member, Lee said. “Over the years, I’ve just been amazed working with this body and how you all truly care about your community. I hope that I can live up to the standard I hold this body in. This is incredibly special.”
Lee replaces Greig Smith, who stepped in for an eight-month stint to represent the northwest San Fernando Valley’s District 12 after former Councilman Mitch Englander stepped down late last year.
Lee squared off against Loraine Lundquist, a Democrat, in a runoff election earlier this month, defeating her by about 3 percentage points. The latest disclosures showed that his campaign out-spent Lundquist’s by about $196,000.
The newly minted councilman thanked his family, friends and staff as well as the rest of the City Council for their support.
According to his website, Lee has volunteered for a variety of charities in his district. He said one of his goals is to not just getting the homeless population off the streets but to help them find employment. He also wants to establish more neighborhood security teams and create a “more effective” intervention system to help families on the brink of losing their home.
Lee is the only Republican on the City Council, although the elected body is non-partisan.
The city’s Green New Deal was a center-stage issue during the election for both the Lee and Lundquist campaigns. The plan is a localized version of the much-debated national proposal aimed at addressing climate change. It sets a goal of powering the city completely emission-free by 2050 through various outreach and community projects, as well as adding restrictions on non-renewable energy.
Lee, while recognizing the effects of climate change, has questioned aspects of the city’s Green New Deal, suggesting it is overly ambitious and would threaten good local jobs. He has also said a push to rapidly reduce emissions would involve major costs for taxpayers.
Speaking with reporters after his election, Lee said the main issues he wants to address from the start include increasing supportive housing for the homeless and working with the city’s Department of Sanitation to help with clean-ups, but he said within his district he wants to focus on the North San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor’s bus rapid transit project that’s being discussed at length.
“I’m trying to see what role I can play, what I can do in the final decision that is made on (the transit line),” Lee said. “I want to start right away tackling the issues that I talked about, and I’m just eager to get to work.”
Lee will serve out the remainder of Smith’s term, which expires Dec. 13, 2020.
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