Coming straight from a visit at the Boys and Girls Club in Hollywood, Teddy Davis attended a dinner at a Downtown L.A. hotel for the Miguel Contreras Foundation on Oct. 29. It’s a packed schedule that Davis, a former journalist and communications strategist, and current fellow at USC’s Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, is becoming more accustomed to as he campaigns for Los Angeles City Council.
Two months ago, Davis entered the City Council race for a vacant seat in District 4. Even though the election isn’t until 2015, campaigning within the community has already begun, as evidenced by the stream of photo ops on Davis’ Twitter account.
Davis — who is running on a platform that includes creating jobs, reducing traffic and keeping neighborhoods clean and safe — believes that this busy schedule in the community is just part of the job.
“A councilmember always has to be out in the neighborhoods, listening to people,” Davis said. “You can be their voice.”
Davis was born in Los Feliz and went to school in Sherman Oaks — both areas of Los Angeles within District 4 — before attending Georgetown University. Since then, he has held a variety of different positions in politics and communications, including covering politics for ABC News, working nationally and locally for the labor union Service Employees International Union and holding key positions in the administrations of former California Gov. Gray Davis and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
Most recently, Davis served as press secretary for Villaraigosa and, earlier this year, as director of strategic communications for Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland.
Davis attributed his interest in politics to a 1992 rally he attended for then-governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton.
“It changed the way I looked at politics. It stopped being something that other people do and it seemed like something that was very open and that all of us have a chance to get involved [in],” Davis said.
Davis’ current fellowship at USC involves lending his expertise to discussions on current issues and policy, as well as mentoring students who are interested in politics.
“My favorite part is having the chance to hear about a student who wants to go into politics, who wants to work in public service, who is curious about ‘What is this job like?’ ‘How do you get that kind of job?’ ‘What paths do people take?’ and be able to share [my] experience,” Davis said. “If I can help anyone achieve their goals of being in politics or making a positive difference in public service, that’s the greatest benefit for me.”
Davis recently did a Question & Answer session with the USC College Democrats where he answered questions about politics and public service.
“We try to bring in leaders or people that want to be leaders in the community, and that have that experience,” said James Drevno, a sophomore majoring in policy, planning and development. “I thought it was really good.”
Other students said they were inspired by Davis’ story.
“It’s nice to see someone who’s been able to bounce back and forth,” said Catherine Shieh, president of the USC College Democrats. “Not having that fear to take a risk is always a great message for college students to learn.”
Davis said that taking advantage of internships is the best way for students interested in public service to become involved in politics.
“It is very hard to get hired into a job if you don’t already know the people,” Davis said. “People who do hiring like to hire people that they know, and if they feel like they met you during the internship, you are much more likely to get hired than if you come to them just cold from the outside.”
Follow us on Twitter @dailytrojan