With the March 5 election fast approaching, candidates for West Hollywood City Council shared their thoughts with Patch on the election and issues affecting the community.
West Hollywood Patch: What personal characteristics and experiences set you apart from the other candidates?
Christopher Landavazo: The personal characteristics which set me apart from the other candidates are courage, discipline and selflessness. As the only candidate with 8 years of military service, including two tours of duty in the Persian Gulf and being recalled to active duty after 9/11 and 12 years of law enforcement experience, I am the only candidate with hands on experience safeguarding our country and communities. Additionally, I founded and head a nonprofit organization which has had a national and global impact for women and children, persons with intellectual disabilities, people living with HIV/AIDS and I also serve as an associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Phoenix. Public service and serving people is second nature for me. My 17 years of dedication to public service, my self-discipline to do the right thing, and my tireless service to the communities I have lived in will only strength my commitment to serving and representing the diverse population here in West Hollywood.
Courage and fortitude in the face of adversity is the key to any successful public policy and as a candidate for West Hollywood City Council, I was the first candidate to stand up to defend our small businesses and community members from political bullying, exposing conflicts of interest of John Duran and Jeffrey Prang’s campaign manager, Steve Afriat, who has been funneling special interest money into the incumbents coffers, ensuring big developers get their permits and building requests systematically approved with little or no opposition. My courage to stand up to special interest encouraged and empowered the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce to reconstitute its political action committee, which endorses political candidates, on behalf of the business community. Mr. Afriat is no longer on the PAC because of his deceptive affiliation with Mayor Prang and council member Duran’s political campaigns. I will continue to lead the fight to restore transparency here in West Hollywood for our residents which has change the political landscape of the status quo as part of my effort to restore trust and citizen input.
Lastly, I am the only candidate who is campaigning for West Hollywood City Council who comes to the table owing no special interest. My special interest is the community of West Hollywood and as such I have committed my own hard earned money to my campaign because I believe in our city. I can be trusted to make decisions which are best suited for the entire community, not just a select few. I can be counted on to listen to the needs, wants and desires of our community and to be an independent voice on our city council.
Patch: How would those characteristics and experiences define your term on the city council?
Landavazo: Character counts. There are numerous residents who strongly desire a city council member who can always be counted on to be honest, transparent, and who will make predictable decisions based upon what is best for West Hollywood. I will continue to serve the city of West Hollywood with the same honor, courage, commitment and discipline I have displayed during a lifetime of service to our country and to our state. I will work diligently and continue to enhance civic-engagement with our residents and small business owners and to work with our community to implement our community plan, which was developed in partnership with our entire community. My first term will be defined by being a voice for our community, implementing our community plan, restoring faith in our community leadership, and serving with integrity.
Patch: In your interactions with West Hollywood voters during the campaign, what were the top three issues they were most interested in?
Landavazo: In my interactions with West Hollywood residents, the top three issues they were most interested in are overdevelopment and concern for realistic growth for our city, public safety and keeping our community safe and transparency with regards to decision making and use of our tax dollars.
Patch: When you look around West Hollywood, which project, development or ordinance approved by previous city councils would you like to see undone, reversed or changed in some way?
Landavazo: In my community plan, which was released prior to the communitywide forum and which contained the ideas now being supported and used by the other candidates in their platforms, I presented a roadmap for “smart growth principles” that was developed with our community of common sense solutions that address the significant issues we face here in West Hollywood.
As your city council member, I will work with my fellow council members to revise the Rent Stabilization Ordinance as outlined in the community plan. We need to revise the Ordinance to increase the in-lieu housing fees. We also need to revise the Ordinance to require that developers build affordable housing units faster. As an example, many developers in the past have received entitlements in exchange for contractually agreeing to build affordable units at some point in the future. They should be built concurrently.
We need to create economic incentives greater than those that currently exist for developers to create affordable units. As an example, we recently adopted revisions to the code which incentivize developers of 20 units or more to build the affordable units instead of paying the in-lieu fee. Those incentives need to be extended to developers of less than 20 units, and they also need to be further increased.
Patch: If you weren't running for city council, which one of the other candidates would be your first choice?
Landavazo: It is clear our community wants change. As a first-time voter in a municipal election here in West Hollywood who is a part of the continuing evolution of West Hollywood, I am honored to be leading the efforts of real civic engagement and to be the only candidate running who has a real plan to help safeguard and enhance the livability of our community. I will work to protect our residents, support small business and enact policies which will benefit all of West Hollywood. It is with humble pride I am asking for each of our community member’s votes.