Published on September 16th, 2016 | by Reporters Desk0
************ ALERT ************ **** WNC Selection Do-Over ****
In August, EmpowerLA used its power of “exhaustive measures” to take over the Wilmington Neighborhood Council’s elections. The decision was due to the council’s failure to have quorum for several months in 2016 and its failure to expend its budget for two cycles.
According to the Wilmington Neighborhood Council’s bylaws the advisory board should be comprised of 24 people. Thirteen people must be present at a board meeting in order for there to be quorum.
A town hall meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Sept. 28, at Banning High School to select candidates. The candidates will be introduced and the public will vote. Candidate may apply online at http://empowerla.org/2016-wilmington-neighborhood-council-town-hall or in person in person on the night of the town hall meeting
Candidates who apply need demonstrate that they live, work or owns real property in the neighborhood and declare a stake in the neighborhood as a community interest stakeholder. A community interest holder is a person who affirms a substantial andongoing participation within the neighborhood council’s boundaries and who may be in a community organization such as, but not limited to educational, non-profit and/or religious organization.
Of its 24 board seats, voters will be selecting only 10 seats.
“The board gets to select the rest,” said Stephen Box, EmpowerLA director of Outreach and Communications. “We are just helping them with moving forward.”
Candidates can run for any of the 10 open seats which fall into four categories:
- Three seats for those who live in Wilmington
- Three seats for those who work in Wilmington
- Three seats for those who own real property in Wilmington
- One seat for a community interest stakeholder
List of candidates includes:
- Ernesto Aguilar
- Sylvia Arredondo
- Valerie Contreras
- Catherine Familathe
- Sylvia Fontes
- David Gonzales
- Joseph Piñon
- Grant Reed
- Jose Rodriguez
Any stakeholder who is at least 16 years old is eligible to vote for candidates at the town hall meeting. Voters may work, live, own property or have a substantial and ongoing participation within the neighborhood council’s boundaries. They will vote for all seats in one simple ballot.
The Problem with the Wilmington Neighborhood Council
The most recent board election, which took place on June 11, yielded the three elected, at-large, board members. But none of the 18 caucus seats were filled, resulting in a loss of quorum.
Sylvia Arredondo said she was only informed through an email from Wilmington Neighborhood Council Chairwoman Cecilia Moreno that due to the decision by EmpowerLA, she no longer was on the board. She said that part of the reason the selection process failed and resulted in a loss of quorum is a lack of outreach to the community. Volunteering is minimal in the board, communication is minimal and even the materials are limited to English-only in a largely Latino community. The result is low voter turnout in a community known for its involvement because community member do not see the neighborhood council as significant or serving to the community.
“There is no true outreach and if there is, when you want to step up, it depends on who you are,” said Arredondo, explaining that often when a younger member wants to do outreach, another board member is sent along to make sure the message is delivered in accordance to the status quo.
Arredondo said that Moreno’s letter stated that Moreno neither agreed or supported EmpowerLA’s decision.
“I honestly feel lost and confused,” Arredondo said. “It’s great that there is a shake up. There could be more transparency and outreach from DONE to let us know what is going on.”
Box said EmpowerLA did send an email to board members and even offered assistance at the most recent meeting.
Time: 5:30 p.m. Sept. 28.
Venue: Woodson Hall at Phineas Banning High School, 1527 Lakme Ave., Wilmington