Former Los Angeles City Councilman and Los Angeles County Supervisor Edmund D. Edelman passed away on Sept. 12 at age 85 after a battle with atypical Parkinson’s disease.
Edelman spent nearly 30 years in public office, first as Los Angeles City Councilman representing the 5th Council District from 1965-1974, and later as Los Angeles County Supervisor for the 3rd District from 1975-1994. Edelman, a Democrat, was known as a staunch advocate for the LGBT community, and helped launch the county’s first HIV and AIDS programs. He also helped establish the Los Angeles County Department of Children’s and Family Services and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.
Edelman championed public transportation, expanding green space at Pan Pacific Park and open space protection in the Santa Monica Mountains. He supported the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, and was pictured in the July 19, 1984 issue of the Park Labrea News with a commemorative plaque installed in Pan Pacific Park commemorating 11 Israeli athletes slain by terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games.
Additionally, he was a major proponent of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. In a Jan. 19, 1984 issue of the Park Labrea News, Edelman was pictured officiating at a groundbreaking ceremony for LACMA’s Robert O. Anderson Gallery of 20th Century Art.
As a councilman, Edelman championed opposition to the city’s payroll tax and helped overhaul the City Charter. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Edelman epitomized what it means to be a public servant.
“Ed Edelman’s pioneering advocacy – for abused and neglected children, people in the grip of homelessness, those who suffered from HIV/AIDS in the early days of the epidemic – set a high bar for how elected leaders in Los Angeles should work on behalf of the most vulnerable among us,” Garcetti said. “His commitment to expanding L.A.’s transportation system changed our thinking about how Angelenos get around, and his emphasis on the arts helped open minds and hearts here and around the world. I grew up with a deep admiration for Ed’s dedication to the people he represented, and treasured his counsel when I began my own career in public service. My thoughts and prayers are with Mari, the entire family, and all whose lives have been touched by Ed’s legacy.”
Former Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yarolsavsky, who succeeded Edelman on the city council in the 5th District and on the Board of Supervisors in the 3rd District called his predecessor a mentor.
“Ed was a diamond of a public servant and one of the most significant and important political leaders in Los Angeles city and county history,” Yaroslavsky said. “He had a profound impact on the history of our region. Above all, he was a man of great personal and political integrity. It was my honor to follow twice in his footsteps.”
After leaving office, Edelman joined the RAND Corporation as a senior fellow in 1995. He contributed to projects on homelessness, policing and local water agency governance, and educated the staff about the complexities of local government, according to a statement from the RAND Corporation. Edelman initially made a one-year commitment to the Santa Monica-based research organization, but his contributions were so valued his tenure was extended for seven years through 2002.
“Ed Edelman was a strong believer in measuring the effectiveness of government-provided services,” said Michael D. Rich, president and chief executive officer of RAND. “Much as he strived to make Los Angeles County government better meet the needs of the public, he helped RAND make its research more relevant and useful, not only for public officials but for the citizens they serve.”
Edelman was also an accomplished amateur cellist who performed at RAND’s 50th anniversary celebration in 1998 and at commencement ceremonies at what is now the Pardee RAND Graduate School. He suffered from atypical Parkinson’s disease for nearly a decade, according to reports.
Edelman is survived by his wife, Mari; daughters, Erica (Jeme) Edelman Benadon and Emily (Bryan) Glickman.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Ed Edelman Endowment for Chamber Music at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, and the Ed and Mari Edelman Chamber Music Institute at the Colburn School of Music. Funeral services will be held today at 1 p.m. at Hillside Memorial Park in Culver City.
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