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Rampart and Temple Street, Los Angeles; Winter 2019

In Los Angeles this week we just capped off a round of Municipal and Special Elections, with turnout for the elections at 11.45%. 2017’s low voter turnout for the special elections actually ranks lower than previous low for an election in Los Angeles, when in 2013 the mayor’s seat was up for contention. In 2013, only 18% of eligible voters decided who would be mayor of the second largest metropolitan city in the world. In an interview discussing the low turnout rates for the city, Dean Logan, the L.A. County Registrar, admitted that the current setup for people to cast their ballots is “arguably outdated”. It’s high time–and even late–for Logan to finally acknowledge this.

 

What’s also true is that as a geopolitical landscape in the 21st century, L.A. is more decentralized than ever; looking at the city from the street or from above, one would be hard pressed to pinpoint a sense of community in the constant conveyor belt of automobiles stuck in traffic through its avenues and boulevards. Exactly where civic engagement is supposed to begin when a city is so disconnected from itself is almost anyone’s guess.

Even so, 11.45%? No way! But there is a larger point here.

In an effort to follow the elections as closely as possible for POC Today–and also because I just couldn’t keep myself from looking–over the last month I’ve uncovered a treasure cove of data regarding the political framework of Los Angeles. The result is a true backdrop of information that will serve as a place from which ideas and momentum will be born for POCT going forward. For example, check out the table below to get an idea of the look and feel of L.A. as a geopolitical entity.

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Of course the table can only say so much. But keep in mind that L.A. is arguably the least visible metropolis in the West, which is to say that when visitors get here, the common question will almost always be: just where is Los Angeles, exactly? As in, where does it begin, and just where does it end? Unlike that other city out in the East coast, or the one north from us in the bay, Los Angeles is spread out like a waffle, with enclaves enclosing one community after the next, so that the city is definitely aware of itself but without ever actually seeing its other sides.

In this way, when stuck in between some part of the waffle, the citizens of Los Angeles can hardly connect with a greater sense than one’s self, and so there isn’t much of an “L.A.” except as seen on Dodger caps and commercials. The only things we can be certain about is that traffic and congestion are getting worse by the day, and also that it’s getting warmer out each year. Moreover, citizens just work and pay taxes here to fund their local government and schools. Aren’t the elected officials supposed to take care of things from there?

Which leads us naturally to: What vote? There is no vote! Too many votes with your vote for this here and your vote for that there!

But with more in no time,

J.T.

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