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PART I -- Councilmember Jara's Testimony in Voting Rights Lawsuit Provides Insight Into Her Views

 

Bob Kronovetrealty
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By Lookout Staff

January 29, 2019 -- Last week, Ana M. Jara became the first Hispanic from Pico Neighborhood, which is home to the city's largest Latino and black communities, to serve on the City Council ("Council Appoints Latina Resident from Pico Neighborhood to Fill Vacant Seat," January 22, 2019).

Jara was appointed to fill the seat vacated by Tony Vazquez, the only other Latino to have served. Vazquez, who was elected to the Council three times, lives in the predominantly white Sunset Park neighborhood.

Jara, who shared her views in her application for Vazquez's seat, provided further insight into her positions as a witness for the City in the Voting Rights lawsuit filed by Latino activists last year.

Following are excerpts from the Jara's direct examination on September 10, 2018 by one of the City's attorneys, Tiaunia N. Henry, an associate in Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher's Los Angeles office.

CIVIC INVOLVEMENT

Q: And why do you like living in the Pico Neighborhood?

A: Because it allows me to reach out to my neighbors. It allows me to live in a multicultural atmosphere. It allows me to be a part of different events and take part in different political issues and
help out -- bring forth some of our issues in the community.

Q: Of all the commissions and organizations that you've been a member of, did you ever feel that you weren't welcome as a Latina woman?

A: Absolutely not.

Q: And why didn't you feel that way?

A: Because in some of the committees that I have been part of, I have actually been asked to be a part of. I have been called to participate. I have been nominated and then chosen to be a part in these committees. And in some --

Q: THE COURT: Who would ask you to join?

A: There were different people that have asked me to be a part, some of the leadership in our city. I had the president of Santa Monica for
Renters Rights who called me several times to run for Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School Board.

Q: Did the former city manager, Lamont Ewell, recommend you for the Committee on the Status of Women?

A: Yes. One of the priorities for city manager Ewell was to enhance the needs of the Pico Neighborhood. And at his prompting, the Commission for the Status of Women made a recommendation to city council that they appoint me as their next person on the commission.

Q: Do you recall what race the former city manager, Lamont Ewell, was?

A: African-American.

POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS

Q: Have you campaigned on behalf of city council members in the past?

A Yes, I have.

Q: Which city council members have you campaigned for?

A: I've campaigned for assembly member Richard Bloom, both when he was running for election in city council at Santa Monica and for his assembly. I have campaigned for Senator Ben Allen when he ran for office. I have campaigned for Tony Vazquez, Kevin McKeown, Pam O'Connor, Gleam Davis, Ted Winterer. There's one I'm forgetting. I know I'm forgetting quite a few. Ted Genser (Ken Genser), yes, and -- I'm going blank. I'm sorry.

Q: And did you campaign on behalf of Terry O'Day?

A: Yes, I did.

Q: Why did you campaign for these individuals?

A: Because they stood on the same platform that I did, which was education, low income housing, safety, and the betterment of our community.

Q: Why did you run for school board in 2004?

A: Because I was concerned about the achievement gap and I felt that we needed another voice in the school board. We already had Jose Escarce, Maria Leon Vazquez, and Oscar de la Torre sitting on the board, and I felt that a fourth voice would assist in bringing some programs in order for us to close the achievement gap.

Q: Why do you feel that you lost the 2004 school board race?

A: The main reason I think was because Malibu wanted to have a representative on the school board. There were some other things that I believe that happened during my campaign, but I don't know whether or not I'm able to disclose them.

Q: Have you run for office since 2004?

A: No, I have not.

Q: And why not?

A: I don't think that I need to be in a position of political power in order to be effective.

Q: Do you feel like you have a voice in Santa Monica without being an elected official?

A: Absolutely.

Q: And why do you believe that's the case?

A: Because I have been able to gather with other elected officials and bring forth our concerns and they have listened to them, and we have worked together to mitigate and come up with solutions to meet those
needs.

Q: Which candidates did you support for city council in 2016?

A: Gleam Davis, Terry O'Day. I think that's it.

Q: Did you feel that Terry O'Day -- or do you feel that Terry O'Day is responsive to the needs of the Pico Neighborhood?

A: Yes, I do.

Q: And why do you feel that Terry O'Day is responsive to the needs of the Pico Neighborhood?

A: Terry O'Day has paid attention to what we address him with, and he's been very visual out in the community. So he comes over and he talks to the community to try to find out how he can mediate and come up with recommendations for meeting their needs.

Q: Do you have any examples of issues where Terry O'Day has been responsive to the needs of the Pico Neighborhood?

A: Yes. As a matter of fact, he was very responsive to -- recently we had a -- an issue with bringing up a child care center in the Pico Neighborhood, and he was very responsive to that.

Q: Any other examples?

A: Safety issues. He's been able to assist us with coming together with the police department. So he's been -- he's recommended that we need and come together with the police chief and also with the city manager and to also talk to staff to see how it is that we can mitigate.

Q: You mentioned earlier that you communicate with Gleam Davis. Does it matter to you whether Gleam Davis is Latina or not?

A: It does not.

Q: Why not?

A: Because it's not the color of her skin or her heritage that she's representing. She's looking at the needs that we have, in order for us to come together.

OSCAR DE LA TORRE

Q: Did you support Oscar de la Torre for city council in 2016?

A: No, I did not.

Q: And why not?

A: I did not believe in his platform anymore. I could not trust that he was looking at the best interests of the neighborhood.

Q: Did you ever campaign with Oscar de la Torre for school board elections?

A: Yes, I did.

Q: And you campaigned on behalf of Oscar de la Torre in those school board elections, right?

A: Yes, I did.

Q: Did you notice anything different about Mr. De la Torre's 2016 city council campaign versus the campaigns for school board that you participated in?

A: Yes, I did.

Q: What did you notice?

A: In all of his bids for school board, Mr. de la Torre was really vested in running his campaign and ensuring that he obtained the seat. In his bid for city council, I didn't see that he was fully vested in obtaining the seat for city council.

FAMILIAS LATINAS UNIDAS

Q: Are you familiar with Familias Latinos Unidos?

A: Yes, I am.

Q: Can you describe what FLU does?

A: Yes. FLU is a group of parents that come together to talk about some of their concerns and try to figure out ways of meeting needs or trying to figure out who they could bring together with them so that they can meet those needs.

Q: And when was FLU established?

A: Well, FLU was established about maybe three to four years ago; however, the group of parents have been there for a long time at the park. And they came together, and they had another name and I don't remember what that name is. But about three to four years ago they established themselves as Familias Latinos Unidos.

Q: Where does FLU meet?

A: They meet at Virginia Avenue Park.

Q: Do members of FLU work with city staff on programming?

A: Yes.

PICO NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION (a plaintiff in the lawsuit)

Q: Do you feel that the P.N.A. represents you?

A: No.

Q: Why does -- why don't you feel that P.N.A. represents you?

A: The P.N.A. used to be really good at listening to our needs; however, since the leadership changed, it's become more of a -- their own -- can't find the word. But, no, that I do not feel that they represent me. I feel that if I were to go there and talk to them, they would not listen to me. They would make me as -- feel as though I don't belong.

HOMELESS SERVICES AND AFFORDABLE HOUING IN THE PICO NEIGHBORHOOD

Q: Plaintiffs claim that homeless services and facilities are concentrated in the Pico Neighborhood because many Latinos and African-Americans live there. Do you agree with that?

(Shenkman's objection is overruled.)

A: No, I do not agree with that.

Q: And why not?

A: Because there are other homeless services in Santa Monica. There is one on Fifth and Olympic, and there has been a task for -- there's a task force that has been trying to address some of the issues of our
homeless population in the City of Santa Monica.

Q: Do you believe that affordable housing is concentrated in the Pico Neighborhood because Latinos and African-Americans live there?

A: Not because Latinos and African-Americans live there.

Q: Do you believe that the city yards is an environmental burden on the Pico Neighborhood?

A: No, I do not.

Q: And why did you oppose the relocation of the city yards?

A: I oppose them because I think that it was going to take away jobs from our community, and some of the internships and skills that our students would be benefiting from, and because we would need to outsource other people to come over and do the jobs of those that
are already employed at city yards.

NEXT: Highlights from plaintiffs' attorney Kevin Shenkman's cross-examination


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