L.A. City Councilman Bernard Parks met with reporters and editors of the Business Journal to discuss his candidacy for mayor. Here are excerpts from that interview.


Question: Some people consider your candidacy to be a grudge match against Mayor Hahn for not renewing your contract as police chief.
Answer: Jimmy Hahn is not that important to me. I have a history of 40 years of public service in this city and I haven't done a vengeful thing in my life. If you believe that Jimmy Hahn has fulfilled his commitments, if he's gotten this city to be safer, if he's gotten traffic congestion under control and if you believe the corruption is not there, then vote for him.


Q: Your campaign appears to be in turmoil and unable to raise sufficient funds. What's gone wrong?
A: First of all, while we are trailing in money, it's not as bad as it was reported. We will reach $800,000 well before the end of January. (As of Jan. 22, the campaign had raised $690,000 and received $167,000 in matching funds.) We believe that we have to raise around $1.5 million for this campaign. We never viewed this candidacy as a special-interest candidacy able to raise $3 million or $4 million.


Q: How do you compete in a market where mass media is so essential?
A: You need both enough funds to air those television ads and a grass-roots field operation. This is not a stereotypical black campaign. We poll strongly in South L.A., some of the Valley districts, also in the Asian community and in some parts of the Jewish community. Our mission is to hold our base of 70,000 or 80,000 black votes and then get to 160,000 votes with support from these other communities.


Q: Where's your support in the Valley?
A: We have strong support among those white male voters who supported Steve Soboroff in the last election.


Q: Hahn has made William Bratton's record in bringing down crime the centerpiece of his campaign. What kind of job do you think he has done?
A: It's very difficult to rate his performance. I don't believe we'll ever know how effective the Police Department will be while it's under a three-day workweek. They've dissipated many of the prevention and intervention programs and still haven't reached the same level of street coverage they had before. Since Jimmy Hahn became mayor, crime is up, especially murders and felony crimes. He only takes the statistics in the last year or so.


Q: But what about Bratton himself?
A: I think he's done the best he can. He's got some limitations. Also, when he took the job, he said he had all the police officers he needed. Now he says he can't live without more police officers.


Q: What would you do to get more police on the streets?
A: First of all, getting rid of the three-day workweek would put 300 more officers on the street immediately. Then, we have to de-politicize the Police Department. Every election year, the number of officers goes up and then it dissipates over the next three years. If you're going to build up the Police Department, you need to do it gradually over a 10-year period. The funding should be general fund dollars. I don't believe we should ask the voters to increase their taxes.


Q: Where would you get the revenues to pay for this?
A: You have to go out and bring businesses in to generate those revenues. Also, in the housing market, we have to find better ways to convert apartments to condos. And building a stadium in the Coliseum would bring $500 million in investment from the NFL that creates $200 million in tax increment dollars to the county each year.


Q: What would you do to relieve traffic congestion?
A: The only way we're going to survive is with regional planning. And for that to work, the mayor actually has to show up at the MTA and participate. I would also make sure we are included in the regional transportation plan for funding. Then, I would be beating on desks in Sacramento and Washington and demanding our fair share.


Q: Part of being a leader involves bringing folks together. How would you accomplish this?
A: Before you can cut deals, you need a plan. Right now, when it comes to infrastructure, we don't have a long-range plan. Everything we do is by increments. With a plan, you begin to get buy-in from all the parties you have to deal with. That's what leadership is about.


Q: Will the recent indictment of a Fleishman-Hillard executive have an effect on the campaign?
A: When you ask people what are their most pressing concerns about Los Angeles, there's traffic, education, crime, and down at number eight or nine is corruption at City Hall. But when you listen to their comments, this sense that City Hall is corrupt enters the discussion at almost every aspect.


Q: Hahn points out that the City Council hasn't moved forward on his "pay-to-play" reform proposals.
A: First, the mayor's proposals for ethics reforms involving developers only came about after he's received more than 100 checks from developers. He's not willing to give that money back, but he's more than willing to block any of the other candidates from getting access to the same source. But I don't think it's the source of the money that's the problem. You can't substitute rules for honest people.


Q: So are you saying we don't need any new rules?
A: I think we should refine some of the rules, but I don't think picking out developers and saying, "You as a group can't contribute" is going to solve anything. What about unions? What about people who want liquor licenses?


Q: Who are the three people living in the city that you most admire?
A: Richard Riordan, County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke and former Police Chief Ed Davis. (Davis lives in Morro Bay.)

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.