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L.A. City Council Candidate Odysseus Bostick Campaigns in Venice

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By Paul Chavez, Venice Dispatch

Odysseus Bostick, a Westchester teacher running for the Los Angeles City Council seat that represents Venice, spoke to about 20 people Tuesday night at the Venice Ale House about his personal background and his stance on a wide range of issues.

Bostick, who is married with three daughters, spoke for about 45 minutes and opened his remarks by sharing that he grew up in poverty in the Florida panhandle. While teaching poor kids in Echo Park a few years back, Bostick said he had a political awakening about the city’s shortcomings.

“People like us, regular people who have kids or who are going about doing their thing, trying to build their life, we don’t actually have much of a voice at all,” Bostick said. “Not at the local level, not at the state level and not at the national level. I think that’s wrong.”

Los Angeles City Council candidate Odysseus Bostick is shown during a campaign event held Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, at the Venice Ale House in Venice.

Los Angeles City Council candidate Odysseus Bostick is shown during a campaign event held Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, at the Venice Ale House in Venice.

Elected officials have not been working for the people, but for outside special interests, Bostick said.

“It’s all about the money they are cycling through the system,” Bostick said. “The contracts that they’re getting to provide services for the homeless or do city maintenance. It’s all overpriced and overblown and it doesn’t work for us.”

Bostick faces an uphill battle in the March 5 primary election to fill the City Council District 11 seat left vacant by incumbent City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who has represented the district since 2005. Rosendahl announced in October that he would not be seeking re-election in order to focus on his battle with cancer and endorsed his longtime chief of staff, Mike Bonin, to replace him on the council.

Bonin quickly gained a slew of political endorsements and his campaign reported receiving nearly six times more in financial contributions than Bostick in a quarterly report filed earlier this month. City prosecutor Tina Hess and community advocate Frederick Sutton also are running for the CD11 seat.

If elected, Bostick said he would work to maximize the city’s solar power potential, create more walking and biking options on Lincoln Boulevard and throughout the city and foster business growth. Balancing the city’s budget also would be a priority, he said.

Bostick was asked about the metal storage container that was installed on Venice Beach on Tuesday to allow the homeless to temporarily store their belongings and if he would take such an action without input from the community.

Bostick said he would not have done so and said he believes maintaining the status quo on the boardwalk was not good for the community.

“It’s a temporary, kind of band-aid solution that exacerbates the problem,” Bostick said.

Rosendahl initially dealt with the homeless issue effectively, but has since dropped the ball, Bostick said.

“Every single interest group in this problem is pissed off at each other and it’s been eight years and nothing has happened,” Bostick said. “So anything that continues the problem is not going to get the entire community back together again. We need solutions that the entire community embraces.”

Thomas Elliott, owner of the Venice Ale House and a member of the Venice Neighborhood Council, asked Bostick if he would consider the neighborhood council as a voice of the community and ensure that Venice gets its fair share of the revenue it generates for the city.

Bostick said the fledgling movements in Venice, Westchester and Mar Vista to secede from the city show that people are frustrated with lacking city services and that he would respect neighborhood council actions largely due to the hard work of its volunteers.

Bostick, who has lived in Los Angeles for 10 years, also said he would seek charter reform to double the number of city council districts to 30, noting that the New York City Council has 51 members.

“The ratio of city council members representing people is way off here in L.A.,” Bostick said. “That’s represented by the fact they get $178,000 a year. The fact that they have a $100,000 slush fund every single year. You’ve got 15 people pulling in about $300,000 a year personally. That $100,000, by the way, is used very astutely to continue to be elected to different offices and that’s a crime.”

He also would include pension reform when expanding the city council to create a more sustainable system to ensure that public workers receive their pensions.

“The ingredients are there to change our city and make it work better,” Bostick said. “People are tired of paying more and more every year and getting less.”

Council District 11 includes Venice, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Playa del Rey, Westchester, Pacific Palisades and Brentwood.

The election will be for a 3-year term on the council and a nearly $180,000 annual salary.

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