Los Angeles, CA–Tara Perry is running as a write-in candidate for Los Angeles City Council District 8. Currently, the seat is held by Marqueece Harris Dawson, a Morehouse graduate with a seemingly positive repertoire with District 8 residents.
Perry currently serves on the Park Mesa Heights neighborhood council and would bring much-needed balance to Los Angeles City Council, where no seats are currently held by African-American women.
“I’m usually at any protest that has to do with stopping gentrification and protecting black residents of South Central. Right now, we’re protesting Wells Fargo on Crenshaw and Slauson because of their infusion of money in the Destination Crenshaw project,” Perry expressed.
“Many people do not realize how many black-owned businesses were closed because of that project.”
Destination Crenshaw is hailed as preserving Black L.A through art. However, many residents currently find themselves engaged in trying to combat the rapid gentrification happening in the Crenshaw and Leimert Park area of District 8.
Destination Crenshaw secured $15 million in funding from METRO in 2019. METRO is currently constructing a billion-dollar train system that goes right through the heart of the Black community on Crenshaw Boulevard.
Prime real estate in the “opportunity zones” of South Central has outside investors quickly buying up property and developing high-rise apartment complexes. Rising rents are pushing out Black Angelenos to places like Riverside and Lancaster. Some are choosing southern cities their grandparents once fled, due to affordability.
“When I came back from college and lived in South Central, I could not find a job. I was a college graduate with a four-year-old son and I had to get on welfare,” Perry expressed at the Fight To Save Black L.A candidate forum in Leimert Park.
The St. John’s University graduate was among numerous candidates who spoke at the Fight To Save Black L.A forum this weekend hosted by a coalition of 12 Black L.A organizations.
“I felt this was unacceptable. I’ve done everything I was told I needed to do to be successful. If I come back with a college degree and can’t get a job, Imagine what’s happening to our brothers coming back from prison.”
Baldwin Hills, the Crenshaw district along with Leimert Park, Jefferson Park, and West Adams are the communities within District 8. It is also the community where Nipsey Hussle’s flagship clothing store sits anchored on Slauson and Crenshaw, known now as Nipsey Hussle Square.
The property has been closed off to the public since Nipsey Hussle was gunned down March 2019 in the parking lot. A Forbes article published a month before Hussle, born Ermias Asghedom 33, was killed, noted he recently purchased the property where he operated several businesses with his business partners.
Perry, a Sociology major, named her uncle Reggie as one of her biggest inspirations. From childhood he informed Perry of the barriers she would encounter due to her race.
“He told me that the world would treat me a certain way because I was Black and no matter what, I am to stand firm in my identity.”
It is this type of understanding at such a young age, that has equipped Perry with the will to confront the issues currently plaguing the Black community of Los Angeles. Issues that beyond gentrification, include a lack of jobs, and astounding Black L.A homeless rates.
“I want to create more grant opportunities for those who live in District 8 for people to open more businesses so that we don’t have to rely on others for jobs,” Perry outlines.
According to the Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority, Black Angelenos represent over 40% of L.A’s homeless population, despite representing only 8% of L.A’s total population. LAHSA’s committee on Black homelessness in L.A found that institutional racism was aiding in the alarming rates of homelessness for Blacks living in Los Angeles.
Perry acknowledges the link between jobs and homelessness. She plans to hold contractors and her fellow elected officials accountable to make sure that more jobs are going to local residents.
“There is supposed to be a target local hire program that the mayor and city council created, where jobs were supposed to go people of a certain demographic. Those with low education, as well as Latino folks and Black folks. They were supposed to fill 5,000 jobs in three years and they have only filled 700 in four years. Only 51 of those jobs have gone to people who live in district 8.”
Perry currently works as a civil rights paralegal and she says that police accountability is very important to her. She supports public access to the police shooting records to provide more transparency when officers shoot and kill civilians.
Perry said that she would also like to see money police are sued for, be paid out of their operating budget as opposed to being paid by the city with the taxpayer’s money.
“I’m also a parent volunteer at my son’s school. I always find a way to create or join a parent council where my son attends school. I think the constant investment in our children not only makes us accountable to the community, but it also shows the children that we have the responsibility of contributing to our village.”