Councilwoman Yvonne Arceneaux
Councilwoman Barbara J. Calhoun
Arceneaux and Calhoun Providing Exceptional Leadership
By Francis Taylor
Sentinel Staff Writer
The City of Compton's Councilmembers, Yvonne Arceneaux, District III, and Barbara J. Calhoun, District 1, along with their colleagues, Lillie Dobson, District II and Dr. Willie O. Jones, District IV, and of course Mayor, Eric J. Perrodin, provide the municipal leadership that is involved in the 'Birthing of a new Compton.' This article will focus on Arceneaux and Calhoun.
Councilwoman Arceneaux was elected to the Compton City Council in 1993 following her retirement from the Compton Unified School District where she served for an impressive 26 years in service and commitment to the education of Compton's young people. Now in her third term representing the citizens of District III, she has the distinction of having the longest tenure of service in the history of the Compton City Council.
In addition to a long and impressive list of accomplishments that she has accumulated during the course of her service on the Council, Arceneaux prides herself on being responsive to the needs of the community and has demonstrated that she is a formidable advocate on behalf of those who continue to return her to office.
"Councilwoman Arceneaux," one Compton City staffer, who did not wish to have their name published said, "is the type of leader who works tirelessly for her constituents and is more interested in getting the job done than making sure she gets the credit."
In a city where Arceneaux and her husband Herbert have lived for over 30 years, she and her colleagues have introduced and championed a number of initiatives which have contributed to Compton's economic development, crime reduction and beautification, to name a few.
Arceneaux chairs the Compton Creek Task Force, the entity responsible for implementing the Compton Creek Watershed Management Plan which included an 8.5 mile creek that is predominantly residential consisting of small single family homes, multi-family units, and significant areas of commercial and industrial facilities.
Implementation of the Master Plan will ultimately result in a 3.75 mile-long park system of gardens, plazas, habitats, outdoor classrooms, promenades, and integrated Best Management Practices (BMP) that promote watershed enhancement and protection. It will transform Compton Creek into a beautiful, economically beneficial asset for the City.
Arceneaux is pleased with the progress up to this point and continues to work with Los Angeles County and statewide officials who are assisting with the implementation of the Master Plan elements.
"Compton Creek has been a dumping ground for all types of waste and debris, in the past.
Arceneaux said. "We have already made considerable progress, achieving about 20-30% of the targeted goals, and continue to make strides in making the creek a more pleasant visiting point for Compton residents."
"Already," she added, "we now have a bicycle trail, an equestrian trail, and an outdoor classroom, and generally, those who live and work in close proximity to the creek have indicated that they now feel more comfortable with the improvements that have been made."
Arceneaux was formerly the Chair of the Compton Crime Task. With her leadership, and with the support of the Compton Council, the FBI, Attorney General, local law enforcement and others, crime dropped 30%. She is also particularly proud of the fact that she initiated a ban on alcohol and tobacco advertisements within the City of Compton.
"At that time," Arceneaux explained, "we held hearings in the community and determined that our neighborhoods had far greater numbers of tobacco and alcohol ads targeting our youth than other communities. We are proud to be one of the first cities to ban these ads."
Arceneaux is happy to stay on the path of service to her community that she set out to achieve some time ago. "Our infrastructure is old and our streets and roads need rehabilitation." She said. "I would like to see every street resurfaced and for our youth, I would like to develop a center that will provide an alternative for them to participate in after school programs, enhance their education and generally help them develop into responsible men and women."
Councilwoman Calhoun was elected to the City Council's First District in 2003 and was re-elected by the voters in 2007. She too has a long history of service to the community having served 21 years as a Los Angeles Traffic Officer and as the President of the Service Employee's International Union (SEIU), Local 347.
Calhoun is currently a member of the A. Phillip Randolph Institute, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, and the Coalition of Labor Union Women. In addition, she serves as the Vice Chair of the Western Region Women's Caucus for SEIU and as a delegate for the 52nd Assembly district and Executive Board.
Before her election to the Coty Council, Calhoun was elected to the Board of Trustees of the Compton Unified School District (CUSD) and was voted Legislative Aide for two consecutive terms.
As a result of her determination and leadership, she served a key role in securing construction of the first new elementary school built in Compton in 35 years. In addition, she supported the Board's Measure I Bond Campaign which resulted in an $80 million grant to renovate existing Compton schools and restore the District to full local control after 10 years of management by the State of California.
As a councilmember, Calhoun feels that the most important issues facing the City of Compton are economic development, specifically the development of new jobs, homelessness within the community and public safety.
"We are all looking forward to the grand opening of the Burlington Coat Factory." Calhoun said, acknowledging that it will provide many new jobs for the citizens of Compton.
"We are also now involved in the planning of the 7th Annual Homeless Veteran Stand Down." Calhoun described. "We are seeking additional local sponsors and supporters as well as corporate contributors to allow us to continue with our tradition of providing a full range of services to homeless veterans. We will offer help finding jobs, medical and dental treatment, housing referrals, assistance and other resources that may be useful to them."
Calhoun is enthusiastic about the fact that things are 'moving up and onward in Compton.' "The new shopping center is developing, we have senior citizen housing currently underway on the Willowbrook side and new, low income housing at the Long Beach Freeway," Calhoun described. "At the same time we are actively seeking new industrial and manufacturing entities to establish their operations within the City of Compton. We are looking for all types of businesses."
"Compton is known as the Hub City" Calhoun concluded, "and the Mayor and my colleagues on the City Council, along with Compton's residents, are Birthing a New Compton and we will not settle for anything less than the very best."
It is significant to note that Compton was designated as an "Entrepreneurial Hot Spot" and made the national list for best places to start and grow a business and ranked #2 in Los Angeles County, out of a field of 88 cities, according to an internet report. Their Planning and Economic Development department provides a broad range or resources to small business owners and entrepreneurs.