OurLA News and Information Director
I first met Michael McCue at a coffee shop in Studio City. He was rifling through a thick folder of paperwork, his glasses perched at the tip of his nose. His signature navy blue blazer jacket emblazoned with his Studio City Neighborhood Council name tag and a number of other small pins advertising his social and political loyalties was draped over the chair behind him.
I knew very little about him, except for the fact that he was a member of the Los Angeles Green Party and the Studio City Neighborhood Council. But within ten minutes of sitting down with Michael I was enamored of him. His warmth and intelligence were disarming. His passion was infectious and inspiring. His earnestness and buoyancy was refreshing.
As he shared his story, talking about his upbringing in a Navy family with his Goldwater Republican Father and Kennedy Democrat Mother for whom politics were an appropriate dinner table-topic, Michael McCue came into focus.
His early involvement as a teenager in local civic issues in his Midwest hometown, his later participation in LA politics clearly illustrated McCue’s dedication to grassroots democracy and long-term political goal setting.
His perceptive argument for clean money politics and the infusion of new blood into the ranks of City Hall while hardly novel was renewed by his comprehensive understanding of the interconnected nature of the problems facing LA.
Willing to devote his time entirely to his campaign for the CD2 seat, McCue’s dedication to common sense values and the major role of everyday people in changing this city for the better was clear the first day I met him.
Since then, McCue’s following has grown to include several notable members of local news outlets, community activists and innovators, as well as CD2 residents who care deeply about their neighborhoods and their city.
This city needs someone with a bit of common sense and foresight as it grapples with a $405 million budget deficit, crumbling infrastructure, and a whole slew of issues that will fall on the backs of taxpayers because no one has the gall or creativity to address them head on.
That is why I find it immensely frustrating -no infuriating – that the City Hall political machine discriminates against community candidates like McCue; and by doing so prevents the city’s ability to change, grow, and improve.
Without proper funding and political support from those indoctrinated into the city’s powerful political scene there is little chance of success for the “little” community-based CD2 candidates in Tuesday’s special election in the East San Fernando Valley.
Seven of the ten individuals running in this special election race are grass roots candidates. Each of them is well intentioned and passionate about creating positive change for their neighbors and the LA community. They offer innovative and challenging visions for the future based on their experiences as citizens and taxpayers.
But lacking the funds, media attention and political backing necessary to become major contenders in a money and special interest driven election means that they stand little chance at doing more than further dividing the vote and forcing a runoff election.
This leaves voters to choose between the lesser of three evils in the mainstream “big” candidates whose fancy fundraisers and glossy mailers have inundated the community for months.
Baring a sudden dramatic shift in the status quo, we will not see a genuine community representative take the Council District 2 seat in this special election.
Just another example of how the political system in this city continues to fail us. I personally love Michael McCue but all the community candidates — Mary Benson, Augusto Bisani, Joe Essavi, Peter Sanchez, David “Zuma Dogg” Saltzburg, Frank Sheftel — would do a better job for the community than the Big Three.
What will it take to even the political playing field and give candidates like these a fair chance?