A famous English painter once said about perspective “What you see depends not only on what you look at, but also on where you look from”. I believe that the quality of the decisions a City Council makes is in direct proportion to the breadth of the perspectives of its members. For many years now, the perspectives that have been brought to the table are rather homogeneous. When it comes time to vote, it’s important to consider the perspectives that candidates bring to determine whether we want them as leaders and policy makers.
I believe that among the candidates in this election, Daniel Lee stands out. While there is much to be said of his perspective as an African American man, I’m wanting to write about other perspectives that he brings, that are probably as important.
Daniel Lee is a renter. Not just any renter, but one who very recently got a rent hike. Thankfully, this didn’t force him out of his home, but he understands too well that not everyone can afford to take an increase in their rent. He has watched the impact of rent hike evictions up close. From Daniel’s perspective, things look very different than they look for people who own a home, a perspective that has been very well represented on the Council over the years. Daniel understands the need for affordable housing, he understands that the City needs to address the concerns of many residents who have been given rent hikes, and of many who are fearful they will. He understands that currently, the City does not have protections that other cities have. And this understanding and the willingness to do something about it have been hugely lacking on the Council.
But that’s not all.
Daniel Lee is a community activist. He understands that for change to come in communities, people need to put their time into it, and work together. You can’t miss the importance of Daniel bringing this perspective to our City Council at this time. We’re in the midst not simply of a Presidential election, but of an unprecedented campaign by both the Chamber of Commerce, and the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles, to block any effort that could bring protections to the 45% of residents of our community who rent. Or the many among us who still believe that we need to have affordable housing in Culver City. Not ‘attainable’ housing, as Goran Eriksson, suggests. Here’s how the US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development talks about this:
Families who pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing are considered cost burdened and may have difficulty affording necessities such as food, clothing, transportation and medical care. An estimated 12 million renter and homeowner households now pay more than 50 percent of their annual incomes for housing. A family with one full-time worker earning the minimum wage cannot afford the local fair-market rent for a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the United States.
But perspective is not enough. You also have to be a thoughtful decision maker if you are going to be an effective Council member. And on this point, Daniel also stands out. He uses public transportation by choice. He makes this decision not simply as a part of his commitment to sustainability, but because he is a man intent on meeting his community personally. Not all of us can make a decision like this one, but it says a lot about someone when he makes decisions with both the environment and his community in mind.
I’m voting for Daniel Lee for City Council. Please join me.