the first time in 16 years (and only the second time in 40 years)
the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisor Seat in the second
district has a vacancy. The L.A. County Board of Supervisors
is one of the three most powerful seats in America, serving
as both executive and legislative with no “check and
balance” oversight. Each supervisor has two million residents,
which is the near equivalent to three Congressional Districts,
and is responsible for the carrying out the state of California’s
health, public safety and social welfare. With most political
seats requiring majorities of 218, 51, 41, 21 at the federal
and state and still require executive approval, the Board of
Supervisors only have to count to three, and it’s done. Thus,
legendary activist publisher, Charlotta Bass, of the now defunct
California Eagle first dubbed them over 50 years ago
“the five Kings.” The power and authority of the Los Angeles
County of Supervisors is legendary. In a day when politics are
mostly pandering symbolism, and most politicians engage in constant
acts of largely symbolic gestures, in a community that needs
so much after being ignored for so long, this office needs a
person of substance.
In the race to replace Supervisor Yvonne Braithwaite Burke, who is retiring
after a distinguished career in public service across several
federal, state and local offices that represented a number of
many “firsts,” the residents, businesses and community stakeholders
will have two separate and distinct choices (of the major candidates
in a field of ten). State Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas and Councilman
Parks have spent the last six months presenting their “credentials.”
I’m convinced in the last couple weeks (and next few months
if it goes to a run-off), the race for this office is going
to come down to one thing, trick-aration. The sophistication
of the voters in the second district will be tested in this
race. In fact, the trick-aration has already started as the
attempts to make the voters think the problem in the district
is about one hospital or one shopping mall. Barack Obama has
every candidate (and their Mama) talking about they’re the change
candidate. Change can be a funny thing. In the black community,
the more things change, the more they tend to remain the same.
In fact, some of the same things we saw forty years ago, some
folk are trying to run past us again (that’s another race -
and story altogether). In the County Supervisor, however, change
will be more than generational. It will be as clear as night
and day as the choices being presented reflect “night” and “day.”
Only one candidate will try to tell you that it’s night when
One candidate is a demonstrated activist and social reformer, a political
idealist with proven progressive bridge-building credentials.
The other has been a status quo bureaucrat, serving through
the most abusive time of the most abusive police department
in modern American annuls, who ran for office out of revenge
for losing his job. One is a proven public servant, having brought
millions of new economic development and a model for constituent
involvement that is now the prototype for neighborhood empowerment
over his seventeen years of public service. The other has been
more of the same over the past five years. One made a career
creating change in every community capacity he has served. The
other made a career, looking the other way, serving in a police
department that has refused to change. These differences will
evidence themselves as part of the “record.” As long as the
voters don’t allow the tricks to get in the way.
trick-aration will come in the machinations of the campaign.
We’ve seen it take place in the national presidential campaign.
It is no different in local campaigns of political significance.
The very thing machinations that are being called out against
Barack, are being waged against of candidates of consequence,
namely Ridley-Thomas. The only thing we can advise second district
voters is not to be tricked. Change is more than spending tens
of thousands of dollars on the tallest Christmas tree or handing
out dozens of proclamations weekly. The substance of politics
is in the legislative results and the tangible outcomes in the
community. And change is more than trying to blame others for
conditions you, yourself, could not change. By now, you certainly
know who I’m for (Ridley-Thomas), but you also know what I’m
against (trying to manipulate voter sentiment through false
and disingenuous claims). Tricking voters changes nothing.
The trick here, is to find out who the “trick” is and why they feel
you need to be tricked. The choice of such a powerful seat requires
an informed voter - a sophisticated voter who knows the right
questions to ask. Not one that can be easily tricked. Just know,
the trick-aration is in effect, and we have to ask those behind
it, who is the “trick” on? Those who say they want substance,
or those who claim change as more of the same. The trick is
in the games people play to get their way. “Their way” is a
symbol for why we can’t change. The change drum can’t be beat
by someone who has never played drums.
Vote June 3rd and tell the tricksters that trick-aration is dead in
BlackCommentator.com Columnist, Dr. Anthony Asadullah Samad, is a national columnist, managing
director of the Urban Issues Forum and author of Saving The Race: Empowerment Through Wisdom.
His Website is AnthonySamad.com. Click
here to contact Dr. Samad.