Census Tract 4612

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Reggie Wilkins

May 29, 2019

Response of:

Reginald A. Wilkins

CT 4612

1. Why they are running and what skills and strengths they would bring to the Council?

Across eight years (2012 to 2019) I’ve been on the Council three – more than a third but less than a fourth of this span of of time missing the majority of time in between.  When I returned from my hiatus last year it was clear that time had improved the functioning of this Council.  While controversial issues still filled up our building there, the Council team seems to have found a way to keep divided issues from dividing the Council.  I suspect the Chair has had a lot to do with this.

Be that as it may, it does not speak to whether I should or should not be elected (or appointed) to the Council for the upcoming two year period.  That is a decision for the voters but I would like to suggest some criteria that may make this decision easier for our fellow Altadenians (or Altadenans?)  Here are some things one might look at before choosing a candidate for the ATC.

  • Does she or he represent their Census Tract?
  • Does she or he represent Altadena?
  • Does she or he represent California in some sense?  America? 

Finally, could the candidate credibly say that their values and actions are aligned with the needs of the children of America and the world?

Jennifer forwarded me an email from a constituent a few weeks ago who was concerned that a neighbor’s yard was making the sidewalk unsafe and unusable.  After emailing him and getting details, I asked if he’s spoken to the owner about the yard.   He had not.  He didn’t say why it was easier to reach a councilperson than speak to a neighbor about a relatively simple problem.

After finding some time I drove over to the house one weekend and sure enough, all 60 inches or so of rain had created a small jungle on New York Drive, turning the sidewalk into a small tunnel.  While taking a couple of photos of this remarkable feat of nature, a woman who was walking the other way greeted me with a big smile.  She was a young, African American woman with glasses that were held together by a few strips of Scotch tape. 

I did not say that I was on a reconnaissance mission, but simply said that the rains had created quite a show in the yard.  She said that she was trying to figure out a way to clean it up but had no idea how to do so.  After learning about her family, the family of the property owner, the controversies and accusations and defenses around her caretaking for about 30 minutes, I asked her if she’d thought of asking neighbors to help.  She hadn’t.

I told her that perhaps she could hold a little potluck and gardening party for neighbors and clean up the yard together.  I said I’d bring my weed eater and a generator and see what happens.  I said I’d float the idea with some people and see where it goes.

A couple of weeks ago I remembered the event as I drove by the house.  While I heard nothing from the constituent, I noticed that the yard had been cleared and that the sidewalk was pretty much like any other sidewalk that will soon be replaced on New York Drive with a yard that was not much worse than my own backyard given the rain we had this season.

While I cannot say that anything I did solved this problem, nor that it will not rise again as fast as weeks can do, I can say that I wanted to be the person who sought out an answer and hopefully could actually make it happen.  While I didn’t get the BBQ I knew she could cook for me by her own admission, perhaps I made at least two other people a bit happier.

2. How they plan to reach out to and involve residents of their census tracts?

The earlier example sort of tells how I like to work – one on one, meeting people on the sidewalk or in person at their houses.   I also like to write my thoughts formally and send it out to the neighbors to get their takes on things.  I also belong to a few local charities and will discuss events at their relevant events.   The best predictor of the future is the past so I likely will continue to do retail work as noted above. 

3. What their vision is for an expanded advocacy role on behalf of the community?

This question presupposes that the current advocacy profile of the Council is lacking or at least it is in some census tracks.  Assuming this to be true, reaching out to the Supervisor’s Office is surely the best way to directly get to what CT members need and expect in most cases.  Reaching out to other local agencies and governments would also advance CT issues.  Right now the Council is structured to give this role to the Officers.