In South L.A., a veteran Democrat finds himself facing candidates on his left By David Zahniser
"One of the candidates in the race, community activist Channing Martinez, is calling for a 50% reduction in the Los Angeles Police Department budget, saying the savings should go toward affordable housing and other services. Martinez and another contender, former city Commissioner Aura Vasquez, say they would push Metro to make bus and train trips completely free, boosting ridership and cutting emissions. Vasquez, Martinez and two other candidates want the city to impose a 2,500-foot buffer between oil drilling sites and homes." "Martinez, who lives in Leimert Park, was 3 years old when Ridley-Thomas first took office. Since 2014, he has been a paid staffer with the Bus Riders Union, which has fought for better bus service and against fare hikes. As a community organizer, Martinez is pushing for the removal of police patrols from Metro buses and train stations, a move aimed at ending harassment of black passengers. As a candidate, the 32-year-old has defended his proposal to slash LAPD staffing, saying other reforms — body cameras, oversight panels — have not kept police from killing black Angelenos. “The only way to make them accountable is to cut their budget,” he said. Martinez, 32, said that, if elected, he also would work to ensure that 50% of all new housing is set aside as affordable for low-income households."
At one campaign event, the candidates were asked how they would stay in touch with residents. Martinez responded by promising to spend 90% of his time in the community and 10% at City Hall. “I don’t want to spend five, eight, 10 hours in City Hall going through papers,” he said. “If you’re not there,” Ridley-Thomas shot back, “somebody else will eat your lunch and drink your milk.”