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Bright public servant can be a history maker beginning with March 5 primary
In a journey that began with a cross country trip from her Ohio home to attend the Rose Bowl game on New Years Day several decades ago, mayoral candidate Jan Perry can culminate her monumental love affair with the city of Los Angeles by finishing among the top two in the March 5 Primary.
It was the beautiful oceans on one side and the desert terrain on the other that attracted her when she came as a young woman, but it has been her steadfast desire to fight for what the constituents need that has kept her here.
“I was impressed by the mix of people I encountered here, the many, different communities, and many neighbors all here working together to form one very big city. I made up my mind then to come to Los Angeles,” said Perry.
Since being elected to office, a relative unknown in 2001, Perry captured the heart of Los Angeles voters when she was elected to succeed Rita Walters after serving as her chief of staff.
She was subsequently re-elected for City Council’s 9th District in 2005 and 2009, and now has set her sights on becoming the first African American since the late Tom Bradley and the first woman in history to serve as mayor of the city of Los Angeles.
While on the council, Perry was instrumental in enacting tough restrictions on fast food restaurants in her district.
Before First Lady Michelle Obama made it a national campaign, Perry engineered a campaign to combat high obesity rates and also funded public parks to promote outdoor activity and supported incentives to encourage more grocery stores that provided quality food and produce within her district.
The downtown region of the city was a sore eye before Perry, but is now a thriving centerpiece that has served as an economic engine for the city.
While her current mayoral opponents have benefitted from massive campaign contributions that have financed their messages on television and sophisticated hit pieces, Perry has carried her message directly to the constituents with an old-fashioned door-to-door campaign.
“My own story started long before — growing up in the suburbs of Cleveland in a family that was forging its way, as many in the post World War II generation did. My parents believed in the American dream. My mom played the organ to support my father, a veteran, in his effort to complete law school. My dad worked hard and with a law degree in hand began the process of advocating for fair housing. He and my mother joined the civil rights campaigns that were gaining momentum in the late 1950s. Both served at Fair Housing Inc. to establish the organization, served on the board, and hired the first director,” she explained
Perry’s penchant for supporting the causes of Blacks was instilled in her before she thought of public services, way back when her father’s was fighting restrictive covenants and for fair housing rights and worked with the family to build new housing for African Americans in the Cleveland suburbs. That effort back then brought them national attention.
Another life changing experience came when her mother traveled with family members by bus to Washington D.C. to witness Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
“The stories they returned with inspired me as I began my college education. I transferred from Case Western to USC in 1974 and immediately looked for volunteer opportunities here,”
Ironically Tom Bradley had inspired her public service life when he was mayor.
“I was really impressed by the changes he was bringing to Los Angeles. I admired his hard work, his quiet but persistent style, and the vision he had for the future of the city. He wasn’t flashy. It wasn’t all about his image. He just got the job done and people liked what he was doing.”
When she made the decision to run to represent the Ninth Council District she knew many of the people living and working there and believed she could initiate programs that would improve the south Los Angeles communities and the downtown area.
She did then and she will as the mayor of Los Angeles, she said.
“I summoned every lesson my family had taught me, all the experience I had gained working at city hall and along with a whole lot of very wonderful people from the community who saw me as their best hope to make a real difference here,” added Perry.
She draws great strength from the many volunteer phone calls, precinct walking, knocking on doors and meeting people, telling her story, all while listening to their concerns. Now she wants to do something for them.
“Since 2001, I have worked 24/7 to improve a council district that had not seen much investment or significant attention in over a generation. I secured over $70 million for park and recreation facilities for families in the district. I worked with developers both for-profit and not-for-profit to urge the construction of 5,000 units of affordable and supportive housing for families, seniors, and the homeless,” Perry elaborated farther.
“As mayor of Los Angeles, I am committed to bringing my passion and determination to bring greater economic investment, more job opportunities, quality housing for people of all income levels, and a commitment to sustainable growth to our city. I believe in the potential of Los Angeles and I know that I have qualifications, tenacity, and strength to continue to move our city forward.”