L.A. City Council candidates plan to partner with USC

The campaign for Los Angeles City Council’s 8th District seat is heating up, with candidates raising and receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations and endorsements.

Forescee Hogan-Rowles is hoping to defeat incumbent Bernard Parks, who is seeking his third term on the city council.

A map of Los Angeles's 8th District. Suji Pyun | Daily Trojan

The 8th District represents USC and its surrounding community as well as Baldwin Hills, Crenshaw, Chesterfield Square, Vermont Knolls and Leimert Park.

Hogan-Rowles, who made an unsuccessful bid for the 8th District seat in 2003, said that the lack of improvement in the district under Parks motivated her to run again.

“I ran in 2003 [for the 8th District seat] and didn’t win, but I decided that if the district wasn’t faring better in regards to business and employment than I would run again in eight years,” Hogan-Rowles said. “Things looked worse, and therefore I decided to run.”

Parks is running for a third term, and he said he hopes he can continue to build on the progress and development he has brought to the 8th District since 2003.

“In the first eight years we have brought $4.5 million in development to the community, led the city in job growth and renovated all of the parks and libraries in the district,” Parks said. “There is a lot to be done in the pipe lines, and I want to see these projects through.”

Parks said he renovated every park and recreational facility in the 8th district. For example, the Norman O. Houston Park now has a decomposed granite jogging path, playground with rubberized surface, new picnic tables and other improvements.

Both candidates have pledged to increase partnerships with USC.

In cooperation with USC, Parks hopes to develop more green space and redevelop the areas north and west of campus.

“I want to work in partnership with [USC] to expand the green space beyond Exposition Park,” Parks said. “I also want to work hand-in-hand with USC to renovate the houses in the North/West Park area into single family units, and assure that affordable housing is maintained in the area.”

Parks also wants to work with USC to increase the scope of the plans to renovate the University Village.

“I want to expand on the current plan to [the new University Village] Project to bring more jobs to the area,” Parks said.

Hogan-Rowles, however, argues that Parks has so far failed to utilize the benefits of USC to improve the 8th District.

“USC is a great asset to the 8th District, and the district has missed out thus far on the opportunity to use the expertise of the university to move forward,” Hogan-Rowels said. “We have a great opportunity to utilize the research function of the university to write grants to get more state and federal funding for the business community and overall desire to increase jobs.”

In conjunction with USC faculty, students and administrators, Hogan-Rowles wants to increase safety in the community surrounding USC and improve the landscape in Exposition Park.

“I plan to work with President [C. L. Max] Nikias, faculty and students to improve the district,” Hogan-Rowles said. Besides working more closely with USC, Hogan-Rowles wants to refurbish the business areas within the 8th District by ensuring the equal distribution of resources throughout the city.

“When I was growing up the retail corridors were operating and flourishing. The dilapidation that has occurred is unacceptable,” Hogan-Rowles said. “I want to make sure that the people [of the 8th District] receive the same resources that people in wealthier districts are receiving.”

Parks’ main focus, if re-elected, will be the city’s budget.

“It is most important to bring the budget in line to where it is solvent and sustainable, and to address pensions, medical costs, workers compensation and salaries,” Parks said.

Prior to his election to city council, Parks served as an officer for the Los Angeles Police Department.

Hogan-Rowles is currently the President and CEO of Community Financial Resource Center, which provides financial resources for businesses and residents in low-income areas.

The election for the 8th District seat will be held March 8.