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Former LAPD Chief Parks Begins City Hall Career

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Special to the NNPA from WAVE Community Newspapers

(NNPA)—Former police Chief Bernard Parks completed his political comeback when he was recently sworn in as a member of the Los Angeles City Council.

Parks was appointed to the vacant position earlier in the day after he swept to an easy victory in the city’s primary election, winning the 8th Council District seat.

Parks succeeds Assemblyman Mark Ridley-Thomas, D-Los Angeles, who had stepped down from the council shortly after winning election to the State Assembly last November.
Council President Alex Padilla said that since the district had no sitting representative, the council voted to appoint Parks immediately.
“He is no longer councilmember-elect. He is Councilmember Bernard Parks,” Padilla said.

In the past, vacancies on the council have meant those districts weren’t as well represented as they could have been, Padilla said.

With Parks waiting in the wings, the council realized the 8th District could be taken care of quickly rather than waiting until the traditional swearing-in date of July 1.

“It was also very evident who the voters chose to be their next representative,” Padilla said, noting Parks’ landslide victory. “They’ve been unrepresented for a while. There was no reason to wait any longer.”

At his election headquarters on election night, Parks said he was looking forward to attacking problems that plague the entire city, beginning with his own district.

“I don’t sense from walking in the community that the community is satisfied with the way the city operates,” Parks said. “I think we have to correct that district-by-district, precinct-by-precinct.”

The former chief is following in the footsteps of Ed Davis, the onetime LAPD chief who was later elected to the state Senate, and Tom Bradley, who was a police lieutenant before winning election to the City Council and later as mayor.

Parks announced his decision to run for council last April, just days after the Police Commission denied his request for a second five-year term as police chief.

He has long denied that his campaign was motivated by a desire to get back at Mayor Jim Hahn or the council members who opposed his reappointment. He now shares the council chamber with nine members who voted to turn down his request.

“I’m moving forward in my new career, but still in public life—that’s all I was interested in, serving the public,” Parks said. “I’m not concerned about what other burdens other people carry.”

Perhaps the city’s most prominent Black official, Parks resigned as police chief a year ago after Hahn refused to back him for a second term. He is expected to clash with the mayor but downplayed that prospect after his election.

“People that want to create friction can create friction. We’re issue people. We’re going to work on the issues that affect the 8th district and the city,” Parks said. “People that want to waste their time on sparks and personalities can waste their time.”

Hahn said he could work with his former police chief.

“I’m somebody who’s easy to work with, I don’t carry grudges, I’m interested in working with people,” he said. “There’s a lot of good stuff that we need to work on here in this city.”
The former police chief was asked what title he would prefer.

“We’ll just play with (the title) and say, ‘Chief Councilman,”” Parks said jokingly. “That way they don’t ever question your pension or anything else. They know you still have those titles.”

Parks chose his son, Bernard Jr., as his press secretary. The younger Parks said his dad has “told me what to do my whole life. I don’t know why he should stop now. I’m ready for it. It seems like he put someone in who’s used to following his orders. I think the transition’s going to be smooth.”

The new councilman also suggested he would take another look at bringing a professional football team to town.
Over the past three years, Ridley-Thomas was the city council’s point man in efforts to bring an NFL team to Los Angeles, largely because the Memorial Coliseum is located in the 8th District.

Recently, the San Diego Chargers triggered a legal clause in their contract that allows the team to shop itself to other cities.

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