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Blog: A Primer for Neighborhood Council Elections

Elections to the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council are scheduled on Oct. 13. Are you participating?

Elections to the board of the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council are scheduled on Saturday, Oct. 13, exactly one week after the Eagle Rock Music Festival on Oct. 6 and roughly at the same location—City Hall on Colorado Boulevard.

We have already begun the 30-day candidate-filing period that ends on Sept. 13— people interested in serving at their particular Neighborhood Council election now have less than a month to file their candidature.

The Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council is one of the eight Neighborhood Councils in Region 8, which represents the Northeast Los Angeles area. Besides the Neighborhood Council for Eagle Rock, the other councils include Historic Highland Park, Arroyo Seco, Glassell Park, Greater Cypress Park, Lincoln Heights, El Sereno, and Boyle Heights.

Click here to view the Region 8 candidates’ filing form.

And click here to view the Region 8 election information page.

What any election needs is candidates—and for each office there should be more than one person running if you want to attract voters. So please consider participating as a candidate in the NC election in your area. Elections for each of the Region 8 Neighborhood Councils is on Saturday, Oct. 13, eight weeks away.

Voting in an NC elections is open to “stakeholders" or "community-interested people. More detailed descriptions are in the ERNC bylaws. Generally speaking, if you live, work, own property, do business or attend a school or otherwise have a community connection to any NC, you can participate to help voice your views on that community's involvement with city services and quality of life. 

A stakeholder does not have to be a citizen to vote in the ERNC election. The minimum age requirement, set by the bylaws, is 16 years.

The ERNC has all 18 of its board positions up for election, and this is a good time to consider running. Check the ERNC bylaws for complete descriptions of the offices.  

The other aspect that makes up any Neighborhood Council is its "Committees," to which those who are interested in serving are appointed. Thus, it's the board and its Committees that form a Neighborhood Council. 

At this time, the ERNC is in need of committee members for a complete NC staffing, as well as election candidates. Most of the ERNC committees have not been convened and should be formed as directed by the bylaws. In this regard, the NC is not operating at full effectiveness. 

However, running a committee is difficult without any committee members, and this is where stakeholders have a wide-open opportunity to participate in ERNC functions, discussing and making recommendations on matters for the full board to hear.

Although this is entirely an unpaid activity, the “volunteer” aspect does have some responsibilities attached for both elected and appointed city representatives. There is a great deal of training and assistance available at no cost to make the job easier. Many board members tend not to use these options, however, and it goes without saying that training and assistance programs don't really help the performance of a board if its members don’t avail of them. 

Having some sense of commitment helps a lot to become engaged in the training sessions, which do give a lot of guidance on many issues an NC member is likely to encounter.

The biggest training and information session of the year is The Congress of Neighborhood Councils 2012 (flyer), coming up on Saturday, Sept. 22, about 3 weeks before the elections. The Congress will meet at Los Angeles City Hall and there is no charge for attending the event. Neighborhood Councils have donated funds for the event, and many people have volunteered to do the necessary work, with the City participating as well.

The meeting is open to all and is as close to a convention as it can be. The day begins with an 8:30 am registration, accompanied by coffee and pastries and a welcome session by city officials. There will be three information sessions over the day, with a luncheon included.  

Remember, our candidate filing period will end a week before this Congress event. This would be a good time for checking into a big part of the NC process—entirely free of cost—and gain some exposure to the system. You get to hear city political figures and meet city department managers to learn more about how Los Angeles works and how to get help or find out how to help yourself.

All in all, the Neighborhood Council elections do require that we have some people who are interested in both serving at the local community level and reasonably knowledgeable about city issues. A wider scope of activity to be engaged in by the ERNC is possible with more participation, both at board and committee levels.

Right now, candidates for board seats are what we are looking at. We are reaching well past April 2012, the month in which this year's elections were originally scheduled. Considering that the City Council was going to cancel all of the 2012 NC elections to save on expenses, an October election is not bad. 

Locally, however, we have come to a period, for assorted reasons, during which ERNC board attendance at the monthly meetings has failed to make a quorum. Our latest meeting was last night, Tuesday, Aug. 14. Ten members of the board have to be present to conduct business—and we had eight, so all matters will continue to the next meeting.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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