Eight seats are open on the Board of Directors of the West Los Angeles-Sawtelle Neighborhood Council, whose goal is to provide representation and advocacy for the community and make the neighborhood a safe, vibrant, and diverse place.
The election will be held on Sunday, June 5, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Farmers Market, 1645 Corinth Ave. (at Santa Monica Boulevard), Los Angeles.
The board positions and candidates are as follows:
• Small business representative (one seat, two-year term). Candidates must be stakeholders who own or operate a business with 19 or fewer employees and are at least 18 years old. Voters must be stakeholders who are 18 or older. There are two candidates.
– Helga Hakimi, lawyer and partner of a small law firm in West Los Angeles: “I can promote and advocate for the interests of the West Los Angeles community and small business owners, such as myself, and ensure that the needs of this community are not only being heard but also being met. I served as a member of the Board of Directors during the course of the past year. Through my involvement and with the help of our president, Jay Handal, we created the Homeless Committee. As a board member, I hope to further my involvement in the Homeless Committee, and with the community’s help, it is my vision to create the possibilities, discover the avenues, and mobilize already-existing resources in a concentrated effort to not only help alleviate the profound homelessness crisis that plagues our community but also advocate for the community’s concerns and needs.”
– Eric Nakamura, owner of Giant Robot Store and GR2 Gallery (established in 2001 and 2003, respectively): “I grew up in the neighborhood and attended the Japanese Institute of Sawtelle and the West L.A. Buddhist Temple. I lived in the area for 14 years and it’s where I published Giant Robot Magazine. With my businesses on Sawtelle, I’m committed to offering free art exhibitions, video game nights, lectures, book-signings, poetry, and light live music. Through my efforts, I’ve been honored by the Japanese American National Museum and the L.A. City Cultural Affairs Department, and was part of a small-business delegation to visit President Obama at the White House. My curation projects include the Smithsonian, Worcester Art Museum, Honolulu Museum of Art, Oakland Museum of California, and the Japanese American National Museum. My interests in WLANC are helping the area become better while retaining its history.”
• Organizational representative (one seat). No candidates have filed.
• At-large representative (five seats, two-year term). Candidates and voters must be stakeholders who are at least 18 years old. Twenty candidates have filed.
– Scott Garner: “As our neighborhood continues to face challenges arising from rapidly accelerating development, I will work to ensure that the concerns of current residents are heard by City Hall. We need smarter growth, with a tighter focus on livability improvements, traffic management, and the preservation of historic and culturally significant buildings. We also need to address our growing problem with homelessness. The city has completely failed both residents and the homeless by not acting to address this shameful situation. Allowing our streets, sidewalks, and bike paths to become de facto homeless shelters is inhumane, and it places an undue burden on residents. I will work to put pressure on the city to develop concrete plans to begin to solve this problem.”
– Dylan Wright: “The Sawtelle/West Los Angeles neighborhood is one of the best in the city. However, we do have serious difficulties with traffic, development and the homeless. I want to hear from you, my neighbors, on how to help face these difficulties and maintain this area for everyone. I have a BS in political science, work at UCLA and was elected Cemetery Commissioner back in Massachusetts, so I do know a little about government. Talk to me and I’ll listen.”
– Robert Leifer: “I care about my neighborhood. I want to be involved in keeping Sawtelle vibrant, fun, and a premier destination for people living in Los Angeles and for out-of-towners visiting this fine city.”
– Melanie Jill Kirschbaum: “I was vice president of my fifth-grade class and I’m ready to make my triumphant return to politics, so here I am! True, I’ve never served at this level before, or even as an adult, but I think that’s a positive because I therefore have boundless energy and enthusiasm for this new adventure AND I’m not intimidated by anyone who may or may not be a seasoned pro. Whaddaya say we give this a shot? Politics can be fun!”
– Violet Emma Rogers: “As a resident of West Los Angeles for many years, I am ready to begin working with our community to build a safe, happy, and locally charged place for every one of our citizens. My office is also in West L.A., providing education on environmental best practices, landscape management, and water conservation in association with cities and stormwater organizations. I look forward to acting locally again and keeping our neighborhood the charming and wonderful place I moved to years ago.”
– Daniel Osztreicher: “I have lived in the West L.A. area for several years. I am currently working at LAX in the Environmental Services Group’s Planning Division, working on sustainability and the LAX train that will connect to the regional Metro system. I have a BA in political science and masters in education, which I feel will help me on the board along with being bilingual in Spanish, having been born in Argentina.”
– Kathryn Schorr: I have lived, worked and owned a small business in the Sawtelle neighborhood for 20 years. I’m one of its biggest fans! It is the most diverse neighborhood in Los Angeles (L.A. Times) with perfect weather and central location that makes it a vibrant community with so much to offer. I will continue to promote our Sawtelle neighborhood and work to make it a safe place to live and work or start your own business, with great schools and real sense of community.”
– Arman Ghorbani: “I have lived in Los Angeles since beginning school at UCLA. Once I graduated from their neuroscience program in 2013, I moved to my apartment in West L.A./Sawtelle and have fallen in love with our community! I am also working as a chemist in an off-campus lab that is located right behind our Trader Joe’s! While at UCLA, I started a political organization and was active in promoting discussion among students. I have been heavily involved in UCLA UniCamp, a program that works to connect underserved children to higher education and the riches of nature. I am a very friendly and open individual, ready to work with others to come up with solutions to any problems our community may face. I will make sure City Council hears our voice. Feel free to contact me … or simply stop me along Sawtelle if you want to share your opinions or even just to chat!”
– Derek Rudack: “I am an East Coast transplant, residing and working in the West Los Angeles/Sawtelle community following my active Army tour of duty. I have witnessed changes, both positive and negative, in this community. A community that welcomed me with open arms, and one in which I enjoy walking to the local grocery store or the occasional bike ride to the beach. What concerns me the most about this great community is the ever-worsening traffic and current homeless population. Fortunately, with the much-appreciated addition of visible bike lanes and the newly added light-rail system, I am hopeful the traffic will return to a more manageable level. Yet the homelessness issue is one I hold dear to my heart, as a disabled war veteran myself. Knowing that over 11 percent of the homeless population are themselves veterans, and that of the 4,276 homeless individuals over 400 have served their country at one point in their life, this is a pill I find hard to swallow.”
– Haggai Mazler: “Our neighborhood is on the verge of a great transformation, especially due to the opening of the Expo line. I have lived in this neighborhood for several years and I have seen the growth that has occurred since. I am a strong advocate for the neighborhood voice, and believe that it should be significant in shaping our community. I have a BA in economics from UCLA and an MBA and masters in real estate development from USC. I have studied and seen how the neighborhood council can shape and positively influence our built environment. As part of the council, I would like to focus on smart growth, our increasing homeless population and local traffic issues.”
– Jamie Keeton: “Strong community requires informed residents. I intend to work to make sure that significant neighborhood changes, such as parking, get as much community comment as possible before enactment.”
– Alan Shinkman: “I am an engineer (formerly with the space shuttle program as a flight controller in Mission Control) and a filmmaker (actor, director, producer, and writer, focusing on non-violent material only). I look forward to working with the best minds in our wonderful community, as we deal with its many issues.”
– Ron Migdal: After 35 years of public service as a ski patrolman and outdoor emergency care educator and then getting sidelined because of a physical limitation, this seems like an excellent opportunity to continue with public service. I am concerned with the rights of local folks. Their needs frequently get overshadowed by zealous over-developers. There MUST be a balance between development and maintaining the quaint and pleasant nature of our West Los Angeles/Sawtelle community.”
– Jian Kerendian: “I have been living in west Los Angeles for the past 30 years and have been practicing architecture since 1988. My background also includes general engineering, development and contracting and real estate. I believe and support smart growth and logical development within the zoning rights in WLA Sawtelle area. If you think I can be beneficial to the community, vote for me.”
– Rosie Kato: “Being ‘locally sourced’ — born and raised — I am familiar with the issues concerning our community and seek solutions. My position on the WLASNC Board since 2014 has provided a unique opportunity in supporting this community. I believe I have made a difference and would like the opportunity to continue doing so.”
– David Lorango: “As a 5½ -year resident of Los Angeles, and having worked in the West L.A. neighborhood for five years, I have come to love the area, its businesses, and our residents. Since working here, I have been an active community member, by participating in volunteer activities and charities, as well as a regular patron of our businesses. Since 2014 I have been active in L.A.’s Neighborhood Council system, voting on grants, police and fire funding, and other projects vital to our communities. I have also worked with State Sen. Ben Allen’s staff, advising them on the issues pertinent to West L.A. and its businesses. As a member of the tech industry and business community, I would like to add my voice to the council to continue to make sure our neighborhood is hospitable to growing businesses while assuring we maintain our standard of living.”
– Greg Ericksen: “I’ve been a board member and outreach chair for the last two years. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished during this time … I am a seven-year resident of West L.A. and have been a public servant for 13 years, which includes providing disaster relief services with the American Red Cross and developing programs through the federal government to serve California’s most impoverished communities. I’d like to continue to serve our community as representative of WLASNC by focusing on these goals: 1. Advocate for your rights and amplify your concerns to our city representatives; 2. Ensure development projects are transparent, responsible, and neighborhood-supported; 3. Develop realistic community lead solutions through respectful discourse and community engagement; 4. Create a strategic plan with quantifiable goals for the board and its members for increased accountability.”
– Scott Gladstone: “As a native Angeleno, I am excited for this opportunity to contribute to the West L.A. Neighborhood Council. I am a graduate of UCLA Anderson School of Management, and have several years of experience in management consulting. As such, I will bring a business-minded approach and strong problem-solving skills to the council. My top priorities are to continue to enhance public safety, evolve the Stoner Park offering, and ensure strong ties within the business and resident communities.”
– Ignacio Garcia Perez: “I have lived in WLA for 14 years and would like to see greater participation by the community in the Neighborhood Council.”
– Naveed Mahboobian: West Los Angeles is my home. Not only do I live here, but it’s also where I’ve been involved with our local Westside Family YMCA throughout my entire life and where I participate in the dodgeball league held at Stoner Park. I love this neighborhood and if I’m elected to the Neighborhood Council, my goal will be to represent the people of my neighborhood as best as I can in order to make sure that our voices are heard.”
• Large business representative (one seat, two-year term). Candidates must be stakeholders who own or operate a business with 20 or more employees and are at least 18 years old. Voters must be stakeholders 18 or older. There are two candidates.
– Moe Mostashari: “I have been on the board for the last two years.”
– Naomi Kageyama: “I grew up in the WLA/Sawtelle area attending Brockton Elementary, Webster Jr. High (yes I know it is middle school now), Uni High and UCLA. My husband Ron and I are deeply committed to our neighborhood and happy to raise our daughter here. My husband Ron Kageyama is co-president of F.K. Nursery in WLA (on Colby Avenue), which is a third-generation family business with 28 employees. I would be proud to represent the family business and my local community while serving on the Neighborhood Council. I am a nonprofit management executive with over 25 years experience. I have served on several nonprofit boards and currently volunteer for F.K. Nursery in my spare time. I am a proud mom and active parent volunteer, recently completing my term as PTA president for Westside Chinese School in Mar Vista.”
The 15 current members of the board include Jean Shigematsu, Southwest District representative, and Kirk Watanabe, at-large representative.
Migdal, Kerendian, Kato, Perez, Nakamura and Kageyama are running as the “Sawtelle Six” and will hold a meet-and-greet on Tuesday, May 31, from 6:30 to 10 p.m. at GR2 Gallery, 2062 Sawtelle Blvd. (at Mississippi).
Voters must be stakeholders who are at least 18 years old. Bring to the polls a photo ID that establishes your identity and documentation that shows that you live, work, own or have a substantial and ongoing participation in the neighborhood. Whatever you provide must show an address within the council boundaries. For further details, visit www.westlasawtelle.org.
(Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified former board member Jack Fujimoto as a current member.)