By LILY TINOCO | Reporter
The Pacific Palisades Democratic Club hosted its annual meeting—featuring several local elected officials speaking via Zoom—on Sunday, January 31.
The meeting began with the election of a new president and executive board for 2021, with Palisadian Steve Cron elected as PPDC’s new president.
“The first thing I would like to do is thank our outgoing president Erika [Feresten] on behalf of the board,” Cron said. “She started as a … secretary in 2016, quickly became first vice-president and, for the last three years, has been a wonderful president. I am honored and humbled to take over the reins from Erika.”
Susan Haskell also bid farewell to her position as vice-president of political issues and endorsements. Haskell joined the board 15 years ago, was vice-president of political issues for nine years and was “Democrat of the Year” in 2011.
“There’s been elections, candidates, endorsements, resolutions, propositions, and honestly it’s a team effort and I couldn’t have done it without the tremendous help of everybody involved,” Haskell said. “The last few years have been really great … I look forward to … being here, [continuing] to be a member and supportive of Pacific Palisades Democratic Club.”
Elected officials were invited to speak at the event, starting with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
Cron recalled a 2012 call with Garcetti when he asked for Cron’s support as he ran for mayor, later finding out he called everybody on the board for their support as well. Garcetti said one of his biggest accomplishments was being endorsed by PPDC.
Garcetti thanked Feresten, Haskell, and all new and outgoing board members.
He went on to discuss the current political climate of not only the city of LA, but the state of California and the nation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You might ask yourself, what does history feel like to live through?” Garcetti said. “This is what history feels like, and the cruel thing about history is that if you just pick up a history book, the pages of the victory seem so easy. On page 58, slavery just ends. On page 100, women get the right to vote … on page 210, marriage equality comes, and these things seem so easy when you read them, and yet in the midst of the struggle, we know how painful those paragraphs are to put on the pages.
“But this is one of those moments for America, and one which we can embrace [as] a new chapter that we’re all writing.”
Congressman from the 33rd District Ted Lieu, County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, State Senator Ben Allen, Assemblymember Richard Bloom and Councilmember Mike Bonin also joined the meeting, offering updates and words of encouragement as the nation moves forward in the COVID-19 pandemic.
The meeting ended with remarks from LA Unified School District Board Member Nick Melvoin, who provided district updates and a look at the foreseeable path to reopening schools.
Melvoin said LAUSD is the largest school-based COVID-19 test provider in the country, and has coordinated over 400,000 COVID tests for school staff, families and community members. The district is reportedly discussing the prospects of using schools as vaccination centers.
“While supply may be the challenge now, equity and access and trust in the community will be the problem in the coming months,” he said.
Melvoin said three things need to happen to get children back on campus.
“One, we need to get COVID under control … LA has been the epicenter of this crisis,” he said. “Two, we need a clear, consistent standard. LAUSD is many things, we’re not a public health agency, and so we need to be told by our community health partners when it’s safe. Third … we need to get our school community vaccinated.
“We think we can do that, schools are physically ready: We have spent a lot of money on PPE … as soon as we get the sign-off … we’ll be ready to welcome kids back.”
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