Answering the Call

Why a Returned Phone Call Can Make a World of Difference to a Voter

April19YoowebCouncil District 10 (CD10) is the primary bridge between City government and the needs of the constituents residing in that district. The councilmember for CD10 is the official elected by the residents of that district to represent their interests, concerns and needs.

How does the councilmember know what the needs are of their constituents?  Ongoing town halls? Attending block club and Neighborhood Council meetings?  Prompt response to emails and phone calls? Visiting local businesses?? Attending community events in the district? All of the above?   

On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your current Councilmember on fulfilling the outreach opportunities outlined above?

Let’s start with constituent response times by CD10, or more accurately the non-response to constituent requests.  I have heard too often from numerous residents and small-business owners from across CD10, from the Baldwin Greens to Jefferson Park to Koreatown to the Pico Business Corridor, that they did not receive a return call even after several attempts over a few weeks to months. The phone calls and emails fall into a dark abyss, sort of like the Bermuda Triangle.

Some constituents persevered and did get what they requested like the cleaning of the alleyway behind their home, albeit 11 months after first attempt for assistance and service. Residents of 16th Place sent more than 80 emails for over one year asking the Councilman to fulfill a promise he’d made.  They were ignored until shortly before the next CD10 election. Many frustrated with the slow response times eventually give up. There are some constituents who receive help and service in a timely manner and some deputies who are more engaged than others, but complaints claiming otherwise are the norm.

This seemingly non-important issue of slow response times is actually a major indicator of how we as taxpayers are or are not getting our money’s worth of services. We all appreciate businesses and organizations that service and work efficiently to meet our needs. Do we deserve a councilmember who creates the environment of a friendly and efficient business? ‘But he has deputies to take care of all that’ some might say. The councilmember selects the duties, or more precisely the councilmember selects the chief of staff who either hires or oversees the hiring.

Deputies who work with the Councilmember should  provide the district residents and organizations and business within the district, the support and assistance they need. Instead of creating an office environment where responsibilities fall through the cracks and are neglected, phone calls and emails should be promptly responded to even if it is to simply acknowledge the call or email.  The councilmember must ensure the council office provides great customer care. It is the Councilmember who is the Chief Executive Officer for each district and ultimately responsible. The buck stops at their desk.

Responding to constituent needs quickly and efficiently have far reaching consequences if neglected. Constituent demands should be just as much a priority nas those of mega developers and bill board companies. Why is it that when a home-owner or small-business owner wants to get an approval for a small modification to fix something in their home or business it can take months to years, but when someone with deep pockets asks for large scale changes to their development projects, the approvals are granted quickly?

A wise councilmember will also take full responsibility for less than positive results from the members of their office and ensure that they are engaged, helpful and active with all members of the community not just the favored few. When staff are motivated to help solve the problems of residents and business owners, quickly and efficiently, to answer calls, address all constituent issues fairly, be genuinely engaged with their community, it makes the community a far better place to live, work and play.

Grace Yoo is a practicing attorney and community activist who ran for a Council seat for CD10 in 2015. She will be running again in 2020.


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Established in August of 2008 by writerartist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.

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