Krekorian and Essel face off in final debate for City Council District 2 runoff election at Valley College

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angela-fentiman90BY ANGELA FENTIMAN

Despite two interruptions by false fire alarms, the candidates hoping to fill the open Los Angeles Second Council District seat participated in their final debate before the December 8 election.

Local residents filled Los Angeles Valley College’s Monarch Hall Monday night to hear former Paramount executive Chris Essel and Assemblymember Paul Krekorian address topics ranging from development and LADWP rates to the budget crisis and medical marijuana.

“We have an opportunity to reinvent government,” Krekorian said in reference to the city’s mounting budget deficit.

Christine "Chris" Essel

Christine "Chris" Essel

Essel told attendees that the key to fixing the budget shortfall was to collect outstanding debts owed to the city and create more jobs.

In addition to discussion about the city budget and development issues in the district, the candidates used the final forum to address reoccurring criticisms during the campaign.

Essel  (who is often accused of being the downtown developer’s candidate) said that while she may have supported high-density developments in other parts of the city near mass transit, she has “never been a proponent of density in the Valley.”

Krekorian has taken heat for entering the race with time left to serve out his term in the State Assembly. He said that term limit laws have made it hard for state lawmakers to create the kind of long-term change he feels he could affect at the city level.

“I want to be home at night and watch my kids grow up,” he added.

Paul Krekorian

Paul Krekorian

The final debate was organized by the Valley Glen Neighborhood Council with participation from the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council, Associated Studio Union of Los Angeles Valley College (ASU) and Neighborhood Council Valley Village.

“We wanted the student body to take an active role not just on campus but in the broader community,” said ASU President Arthur Minasyan. “We can’t complain unless we take an active role.”

Minasyan had the opportunity to ask four questions of the candidates during the debate that were written by ASU members. The questions primarily focused on education-related issues, but one asked how the candidates would restore faith in politicians and the political process.

“One of the main reasons I’m running is to restore faith in government,” Essel replied.

Krekorian said he shared Minasyan’s concerns about the public’s lack of trust in politicians and told attendees that he has strived to be one of the most accountable and accessible politicians in office.

Several of the original 10 candidates were in attendance to hear from the candidates. Many of the former candidates have made endorsements for the runoff election.

Former CD 2 candidate Pete Sanchez said that he endorsed Krekorian because “he was going to be the better representative of me, the CD 2 resident.”

“He answered me more directly, like an old friend,” Sanchez said.

Valley Glen Neighborhood Council Board Member Ted Geldberg is supporting Essel in the race because he feels that the city’s budget problems require solutions that can only come from a business person.

“We are at a crisis where the City Council needs to deal with budget issues and use of funds that only a business person can deal with,” Geldberg said.

The election will take place Tues., Dec. 8. More information about the election (including polling place lookup) can be found on the City Clerk’s election website:

The Second Council District seat; which represents the communities of Lake View Terrace, La Tuna Canyon, North Hollywood, Shadow Hills, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Sunland, Sun Valley, Tujunga, Valley Village, Valley Glen and Van Nuys; has been vacant since July 1, when former L.A. City Councilmember Wendy Greuel took office as city controller.

Angela Fentiman is a freelance writer and public relations professional who has represented clients across all sectors—nonprofit, government and business. She has a master’s degree in public administration (MPA) and a B.A. in communication. Angela can be contacted at

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