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Thursday, Jun 8, 2023


By DANIEL TAUB Staff Reporter Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon has attracted headlines in recent months after pushing for redevelopment of the former General Motors Corp. site in Panorama City, as well as in his effort to create a development vision for the Hansen Dam area of the Northeast San Fernando Valley. But perhaps Alarcon’s biggest recent move was his announcement that he plans to run for Herschel Rosenthal’s state Senate seat after Rosenthal is termed out next year. In the Democratic primary, Alarcon likely will be pitted against former Assemblyman Richard Katz, a friend of Alarcon’s who has also announced his intention to run. Alarcon, 43, was first elected to the Los Angeles City Council in 1993 and was reelected in April. He represents the council’s 7th district, which includes all of Pacoima and parts of Mission Hills, Sylmar, Arleta, North Hills, Lake View Terrace, Sun Valley, Panorama City and North Hollywood. Q: You’re running for state Senate in a primarily Latino district and you’re going to be running against former Assemblyman Richard Katz. How do you see that playing out? A: I win. (laughs) Q: Do you win because you’re Latino? A: Well, the district is in a majority Latino community. And the population is a majority Latino community. But in terms of voters, no. I’ve always won with a broad coalition of people of all ethnicities as well as communities of interest. Right now, I’m very excited to have very strong endorsements from Democrats and Republicans as well as business and labor. Q: You’re very community-oriented and always mention how you grew up in your district. What would happen if you went to Sacramento and were no longer handling local issues on a day-to-day basis? How would you keep that sense of community? A: Actually, that’s one of the reasons I’m running. I believe that many state legislators have forgotten how to balance their responsibility to the state Legislature and focus on the district at the same time. I believe it can be done and I want to bring that sense back to the district. I think that just as people are concerned about potholes and streetlights, they’re equally concerned about Caltrans and the freeways and the school system. Those things aren’t local, and we have to make statewide decisions on the basis of what we see in our district. I think politicians that lose perspective of the local needs will not be able to make good statewide decisions. So I expect to be very hands-on in my district as a senator, or any other position. I would feel, frankly, off balance if I didn’t focus on that district. Q: Do you have any longer-term political goals? A: The (state) Senate. Q: Beyond that? A: That’s my long-term goal to be a state senator. I remember when Mayor (Tom) Bradley appointed me Valley-area coordinator, and people used to say, “Where are you going from here? What are you going to do? People are talking about this.” You know, my parents taught me to eat one bite at a time. If you keep looking at the future, then you can’t enjoy the meal you’re having now. Nor will you be able to do a good job with what you have in front of you. So, no, my focus right now is serving as a City Council member and running for the state Senate. And I’m not looking beyond that. In terms of goal-setting, the first decision that the voters have to make is whether they want me to be a state senator. And that’s the only decision I want them to focus on. Q: What are your feelings on Valley secession? A: I’ve always said that in order to make a firm decision on secession, we need more information. We need to know the impact. We need to do good tax and revenue analysis. We need to look at our debt and determine who’s going to pay what. And before anyone votes on the issue of Valley secession, or any other secession, they should know how much debt will ensue whether their tax base is going to cover certain expenses. And there’s a myriad of other issues. Nobody has voted for secession. The only thing that has been asked is, “Would you give the Valley the opportunity to decide?” And I think the Valley should have that opportunity. It’s not going to happen this year, but I do believe they should have the opportunity to decide. By not giving them that choice, I really believe that people entrench themselves and take positions for secession without the benefit of full information. And that’s the wrong reason to make the decision. They should have more information, and then they can make an informed decision. Q: What is the current status of the GM plant renovation? A: (Recently) we had the $4 million grant from the Economic Development Administration. It was approved, and that triggered moving into construction. We anticipate that by the end of March, most of the commercial retail will be finished and opened. Q: What about the industrial side? A: On the industrial side, they’re negotiating with a number of prospective tenants and I don’t have a lot to add. But they’re looking at the same relative timeline, recognizing that the industrial is going to take longer. Q: Where are things on Hansen Dam? A: Well, we went out to bid on a prospective vision statement for the San Fernando Valley. We received five bids, some very complicated. And talk about vision. They really were seeking pie in the sky. One of the bids, I know, came in at $3.4 million, and we have $180,000 (put aside to pay for the vision statement, a redevelopment plan for the Hansen Dam area). So I don’t know how they expect to get that. But I can tell you that it’s moving forward and we’re hoping to select a contractor to create that vision statement for the core of the northeast San Fernando Valley. The thing that kind of triggered the whole (redevelopment) idea was a Department of Water and Power site where we have the Valley generating station. The site is potentially going to go through a transition with the deregulation of utilities in the state, and we may not need all the land there, so we want to explore that as one of the parcels that might be redeveloped, as well as the entire area. (The five bidders) made their presentations to the advisory committee. As far as I know there has not been a selection, but there have been some very good proposals. They included all the ideas I had mentioned before. Q: How did you land your seat on the Air Quality Management District? A: I had asked Mayor (Richard) Riordan when I was first elected if he would consider me for the AQMD, and he said that as long as (former City Councilman) Marvin (Braude) was there, that was fine with him. So I asked him, “If that should change, would you give me first consideration?” And he obviously did. Q: You immediately threw yourself in the center of controversy by casting the deciding vote to remove John Mikels from the chairmanship of the board. A: They moved to remove John Mikels from the chairmanship and put Bill Burke in, and I supported that, and it was a 7-5 to vote. I was the swing vote. I was concerned that a 6-6 vote would focus too much attention on governance and not enough attention on air quality, which should be the focus of the Air Quality Management District. Having not known Mr. Mikels I decided to vote for Bill Burke, who assured me I would have a strong role. Soon after, he appointed me chair of the legislative committee. I think my first significant action is to look at whether we should establish a new office in Washington, D.C. Given these new (Environmental Protection Agency) standards, I think we’re going to need it. Q: What do you do for fun? A: Well, first of all, I spend a lot of time with my wife. And my youngest kid went to college (last month). So I’m very sad about her leaving, but I’m very happy about her purpose. My wife and I are best friends so we spend a lot of time together. We try to get to the movies as often as we can. My wife and I are also involved in a lot of community affairs. If I could have a choice of how to spend my day, I would play a round of golf, I would bowl several games, and I would play baseball. Richard Alarcon Title: Los Angeles City Councilman Born: 1953, Los Angeles Education: California State University, Northridge, bachelor’s degree in political science, 1981 Most admired people: Parents, former Mayor Tom Bradley Hobbies: Golf, bowling, spending time with wife, baseball Turning point in career: Being hired as a senior administrative assistant in the mayor’s office in 1981 Personal: Wife, Corina, and four children

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