74.9 F
San Fernando
Sunday, Aug 7, 2022
-Advertisement-

Mel for Mayor

After nearly 40 years studying and developing public policy through roles in city and regional public service, former NFL player turned Valley real estate agent Mel Wilson has announced his candidacy for Los Angeles mayor.“I’m not fighting for me – I’m 68 years old, I don’t need this to make my career,” he said in an exclusive interview with the Business Journal announcing his candidacy. “I’m not trying to be governor, I’m not trying to be president.” Wilson’s campaign officially launched July 1 with a business-friendly agenda. Specifically, he has a three-prong mission to address housing affordability and the homelessness crisis, spur business recovery after COVID-19 and spread prosperity and fairness across Los Angeles. Having lived for more than 40 years in the Valley area, Wilson said he hopes to promote equity among all the residents of the mayor’s jurisdiction, not just focus his campaign on the downtown neighborhood.

“I’m trying to turn L.A. into a place where it’s a better place to live – that’s what I’m fighting for,” he said.If elected, Wilson hopes to expand collaboration to develop more transportation infrastructure and small business support for the San Fernando Valley and Pacoima areas, as well as improving transit options to make traveling through L.A. County easier. He supports eliminating the gross receipt tax citywide, proposing incentives to help business owners gradually raise wages to an eventual $40,000 annual minimum, subsidizing child care and lobbying D.C. politicians to forgive some student debt.

But, at the core of most of these issues, Wilson said, is the problem of finding enough affordable housing in the area.

“I know how to create housing opportunity, not only for rentals but for people of color or with low income to have equity ownership. I’ve done it before. I’ve worked with L.A. city, the Restore Neighborhoods LA program. I’ve done all this before. I was the broker for L.A. city for a number of years when they had the Obama national stabilization program and stimulus money,” Wilson said. “So I think the timing is now and I think that I can – no, I don’t think, I know – that I can speak to these issues.” CSUN football starWilson played football at California State University – Northridge, becoming a Kodak All-American before being drafted by the NFL’s New York Giants. After his sports career ended, he became a residential broker and started Mel Wilson & Associates in Northridge.

While working in the Valley as a Realtor focused on affordable housing, he was twice appointed to the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority board, as well as serving on the board of the City’s Business Tax Advisory and Small Business Advisory Commissions. As for business organizations, Wilson was the first non-white president of the San Fernando Valley Association of Realtors, the founding chairman of the Pacoima Enterprise Zone Advisory Commission, the director of the National Association of Realtors. He helped create the Valley Economic Alliance to support businesses after the 1994 Northridge earthquake.“Mel is a tremendous leader. He was a leader with the United Chambers of Commerce (San Fernando Valley & Region) during the earthquake, which was a very difficult time,” said Randy Witt, former chairman of the Valley Economic Alliance. “He is very astute at being a business leader and knowing the issues and the problems of businesses. … In addition to that, he’s a real man of the people. Being a Realtor, he works closely with both potential homebuyers and home sellers, so he really understands the issues of everyday people.”The mayoral candidacy is not Wilson’s first foray into running for office. In 2002, when the San Fernando Valley portion of Los Angeles attempted to secede from the rest of the city, Wilson was a candidate for mayor of the new Valley City proposed through Measure F. While the measure failed to receive enough votes to pass and the new city was never formed, Wilson felt he would return to politics if he ever felt his local community needed him.

“The thing about Mel is that when he sees a problem, he steps to the front,” said Witt. “And it’s not an ego thing. I mean, if Mel felt that somebody else could handle the problems, he would have no problem sharing the work or sharing the spotlight. … He’s a real team player, but he feels that there’s nobody out there that can tackle these current issues.” Name gameWhile it is still early in the election season for the 2022 mayoral race, three major candidates have announced their campaigns: Joe Buscaino, current president pro tempore of the L.A. City Council; City Attorney Mike Feuer; and Alex Gruenenfelder, neighborhood councilman for Echo Park. In addition to other undeclared candidates, rumors have swirled that L.A. City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, former L.A. city controller Wendy Greuel and shopping mall developer Rick Caruso may announce their candidacies later in the year.

Though the mayoral office is nonpartisan, Wilson said he has received encouragement so far from established Democrat and Republican community leaders and is hopeful the bipartisan support will help him with the one weakness he sees with his campaign: name recognition.“Often, it’s who’s sitting down at city hall that folks focus on,” Joel Fox, political consultant and former publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily, a conservative website in Granada Hills, said of mayoral elections. “And that could crimp the style of someone who is coming out of the Valley and doesn’t have the kind of name identification that some of these other candidates will have.”Fox said having a strong, unifying message and raising large donations would be a lesser-known candidate’s best bet of breaking through the fray to capture votes.

For Wilson, a Black man whose first job was picking cotton in Alabama fields during the summertime, the idea of being underestimated is not just familiar, but a motivator behind his decision to run.“I know it’s an uphill battle. But I’ve been an underdog all my life,” Wilson said. “I’m fighting for a better L.A. I’m building, not a campaign – although I have a campaign apparatus – I’m building a movement. A movement for a better L.A.”

Katherine Tangalakis-Lippert
Katherine Tangalakis-Lippert
Katherine Tangalakis-Lippert is a Los Angeles-based reporter covering retail, hospitality and philanthropy for the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. In addition to her current beat, she is particularly interested in criminal justice topics, health and science stories and investigative journalism. She received her AA in Humanities from Moorpark College in 2016, her BA in Communication from Cal Lutheran University in 2019 and followed it up with a MA in Specialized Journalism from USC in the summer of 2020. Through her work, Katherine aspires to help strengthen the fragile trust between members of the media and the public.
-Advertisement-

Featured Articles

-Advertisement-
-Advertisement-

Related Articles

-Advertisement-
-Advertisement-