City Councilman Mike Bonin Spends First Day in Office in Venice and 11th District
By Paul Chavez, Venice Dispatch
Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin kicked off his first day on the job Monday by spending time in his 11th Council District, which includes Venice, instead of City Hall.
Bonin, 46, joined a city crew and helped fill potholes in Venice as part of his first day activities that also included serving meals to senior citizens, picking up recyclable waste with city sanitation workers and meeting with public safety officials.
“It was a fantastic day,” Bonin said Monday evening after visiting firefighters in the Pacific Palisades.
Bonin was elected to the City Council of the nation’s second-largest city in March after fielding 62 percent of the vote in a four-candidate primary election.
The Harvard graduate replaced outgoing City Councilman Bill Rosendahl who had represented the 11th District since 2005.
Rosendahl announced in October 2012 that he would not be seeking re-election in order to focus on his fight with cancer and endorsed Bonin, his longtime chief of staff, to replace him on the council.
Bonin was elected to a four-year term on the council since he gained more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary. The position comes with an annual salary of about $180,000. The 11th Council District includes Venice, Mar Vista, Del Rey, West L.A., Playa del Rey, Westchester, Pacific Palisades and Brentwood.
Since there were no council meetings on his first day in office, Bonin said he symbolically stayed in his district to set the tone for his first term.
“I thought this job begins and ends with constituent services and representing the district,’ he said. “I thought the most appropriate way to start the job was to do it in the district and do it delivering services and hanging out with constituents.”
Bonin also met with Los Angeles Police Department officials and small business owners in Westchester on his first day in office.
“I really tried to get myself a taste of the district and the issues,” Bonin said.
The first-time public official said he gained a “newfound appreciation” for the hard work of city employees while filling potholes in Venice.
“When you sit around City Hall for a number of years like I have there tends to be a perception that city government is about the people of City Hall and folks in City Hall who make city government happen and that’s not the case,” Bonin said. “The work of city government happens because of the cop on beat or firefighter on the engine or guy filling potholes or woman chasing the abandoned or stray dog.”
Bonin gave credit to the city’s sanitation workers who rose before dawn for their 6 a.m. shifts Monday with a hard’s day work ahead of them.
“Shoveling asphalt and smoothing it out, that was very hard work,’ Bonin said. “It’s hot work, it’s back-breaking labor and I gained a newfound appreciation for how hard they work and how vital they are to make the city function.”
Bonin also served senior citizens meals at the Felicia Manhood Senior Center where he was on “biscuits, butter and Jell-O duty” that he said was “a lot easier” than shoveling asphalt.
Instead of the 100-day evaluation mark in office, Bonin said he was focusing on his first 100 hours in office.
He planned to walk from his Mar Vista home down Walgrove Boulevard on Tuesday to take public transportation to City Hall to underscore his support for mass transit.
“I want the first 100 hours to set the tone not for just 100 days, but the course of four years,” Bonin said. “I want it to be neighborhood focused and district focused on getting things done.”
The new councilman also introduced his so-called “Access 11” community engagement program that focuses on direct personal outreach and technology to improve relations with city government.
“We need a Mayberry approach, and an iPhone sensibility,” Bonin said in a statement. “Access 11 will set a new standard for accessibility and transparency by harnessing the best, most creative ideas the people of Council District 11 have to offer and bringing City Hall closer to people on the Westside.”
Bonin, a longtime Venice resident who recently moved to Mar Vista, made campaign promises that included: increased parking for Venice residents and local businesses; implementing a ban on chain stores that threaten the neighborhood’s character; promoting the emerging Silicon Beach tech sector; returning revenue from city-owned parking lots back to Venice for local improvement projects, and fighting noise, pollution and traffic from Santa Monica Airport.
Bonin is a member of St. Monica’s Church in Santa Monica and lives with his partner, Sean Arian. He also was a former newspaper reporter in South Los Angeles and graduated from Harvard University in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree in United States History.
Bonin also previously served in 2003-2004 as district director and deputy chief of staff for retired Rep. Jane Harman, who represented the Westside and South Bay in Congress for 16 years, and before that worked for seven years for City Councilmember Ruth Galanter as legislative deputy, district director and deputy chief of staff.
His election victory propelled him to his first stint in public office.
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