On Dec. 14, 2021, a small crowd gathered on an outside patio at the Citizen Public Market to celebrate Dr. Daniel Lee taking the mayor’s chair, and becoming the first Black Mayor of Culver City.
With a proclamation from L.A. County Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell, Lee accepted the Supervisor’s congratulations. The two shared a moment while Mitchell confided that when Lee asked for her endorsement on his initial city council campaign in 2016, it had showed her that he was missing a step. “He got my endorsement; he forgot to ask for a contribution. I called him back to give him one anyway, and remind him that getting the official approval was only half the ask.”
Lee was as amused as anyone else at the anecdote, and noted that he had learned many things about elected office from Mitchell; this was only one of them.
Lee made a brief speech, telling the crowd, “In 2018, I was elected the first Black member of the Culver City Council in the city’s hundred year -plus year history. Last night, I was sworn in as the city’s first Black Mayor. The significance of this accomplishment is not lost on me, given our city’s history as a “sundown town.” But, I am not a fan of firsts. Generally, because they often occur years, decades or even centuries after they should have. This could have happened in the seventies.”
Lee also noted that his first act has mayor had been to vote in the city’s application for Project Roomkey, a major turning point in creating supportive and interim housing for the homeless in Culver City. While Council member (and previous mayor ) Alex Fisch joked that he was jealous, Lee bantered back that Fisch did have control over how the agenda was set, so there was really no need.
“My priorities as mayor go beyond protecting the health and safety of our residents and stakeholders focus on using the instrument of government to address the practices that we should leave in the past: racism, classism, and other bigotry. Many of these -isms continue to proliferate, while others are often made even worse through government policy. It’s time for change. We will be that change.”
The sincere applause at the gathering was a reflection of supporters and voters happy to see Lee achieve ‘a first’ for Culver City.