A Park La Brea resident, Tara Bannister, has entered the race to succeed Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge, 4th District, who will be termed out in 2015.
A native of Turners Falls, Mass., Bannister moved to Los Angeles in 1989 to study political science at USC. Even as a college freshman, she knew she wanted to run for a seat on the council.
“It would be an honor and a privilege to serve my neighbors and make their lives better on a daily basis,” Bannister said.
While in school, she helped found the USC Trojan Democrats and soon embarked on a series of volunteer positions and campaign work, including Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign in 1992, Mike Woo’s run for mayor in 1993 and Kathleen Connell’s successful bid for state controller in 1995.
Bannister said she then went on to work under Lt. Gov. Gray Davis, who ran for governor in 1998. After Davis was elected as governor, she served as his senior advisor until 2000.
In the last decade or so, Bannister has done a “whole spattering of things.” She said she has worked for associations and nonprofits, owned her own business and assisted with an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign in Africa. Bannister said the campaign came together somewhat randomly, but it helped bring attention to how AIDS can be prevented and how it spreads.
“When you have the opportunity to affect change, you take it,” she said, adding that she intends to represent the district, if elected, with that sentiment in mind.
Now, Bannister operates a public relations business from her home in Park La Brea, where she’s lived for 10 years. Her main client is the National Apartment Association, which represents the apartment industry.
Bannister said she has wanted to run for a council seat since moving to California, as the council can do an “extreme” amount of good for an “extreme amount of people” — more so than the president.
She said she would like to bring new people into the various debates on city issues in hopes of fostering new ideas, while also utilizing technology to stay informed when making decisions.
Bannister said the campaign will be a “grind,” but she loves her neighbors and her neighborhood and hopes to make positive changes to improve both.
“You have to want to do it in your sleep,” she said.
When discussing issues affecting the district, Bannister said outright: she doesn’t hold the solution to the area’s traffic woes. But she said she does know that luxury apartments usually bring more traffic and that smaller units attract Millennials, who are more willing to use public transportation.
Bannister said such information, which she obtained while working for the apartment association, is usually left out of debates about reducing congestion. She said the city could do a better job of using resources to make informed decisions.
“It’s just not the way we’ve gone about doing city government in Los Angeles for a long time,” Bannister added.
She said there is a lot to be learned when one asks the right questions. The Massachusetts native said teamwork would be an essential element in her office, if elected. She referenced UCLA and USC, which are home to “some of the most brilliant minds” in the country.
“We need to bring all of these people into the decision making process. …We’ve got some of the smartest and brightest people in the whole world living in Los Angeles,” Bannister said.
She said she looks forward to learning more about what the top issues are for the district’s various neighborhoods and communities. Bannister said it’s imperative for a person to listen more than he or she speaks.
In terms of development, she said she would work to protect neighborhoods while facilitating development near transit lines and other dense areas. Bannister said it’s important to protect neighborhoods such as Hancock Park and Larchmont.
“There are places to put development and places not to put development,” she added.
Bannister said she had reservations about the Millennium Hollywood project. She said the city should have figured out whether the Hollywood Fault is on the site before approving the project. However, whether that is the case is still unknown.
“Obviously, the devil is in those details,” Bannister said.
With so much time before the election, the Park La Brea resident said she will continue to refine ideas as she meets with constituents. However, she will certainly try to abide by the Martin Luther King, Jr. quote that sits on her desk: “The time is always right to do what is right.”
Bannister joins a host of other candidates — Joan Pelico, Carolyn Ramsay, Teddy Davis, John Nelson Perron Jr. and Steve Veres — who are running for LaBonge’s seat in 2015.
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