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Conversations with Judy Dunlap

Judy Dunlap

Judy Dunlap

I had the opportunity to meet with District 2 incumbent, Judy Dunlap, over the past weekend.  We choose to meet on a Sunday morning since I wasn’t in conflict of missing church and it wouldn’t interfere with her canvassing.  Choosing Starbucks over on LaBrea and Centinela to meet for a couple of reasons: it was in her district and it was a high traffic, public place.

The first thing I noticed was Ms. Dunlap was in the rear of the coffee-house, head buried in her iPhone and no beverage in front of her.  She was sitting at the table alone, and wasn’t wearing her trademark black hat.  There where a handful of patrons who were either busy talking amongst themselves or tapping away on their laptops.

She had campaign materials ready for me which pointed out her opponents commitments to Westchester area clubs and organizations he belongs to along with pointing out he was recently removed as chair of the police oversight commission.  When I visited his website, I was not impressed that he himself didn’t list any activities that he was involved with within Inglewood.  Again, I wasn’t there to hear about her opponents, or the conflicts with other council members, I wanted to learn more about her.

Judy Dunlap has represented District 2 for 20 years.  She is vilified for the blight in her area, the closing of the fire station (which was done when only Franklin, Morales and Tabor where on the dais with her when Dorn was forced to resign), and her voting record.  What I didn’t know, which was slightly endearing, was she was a former teacher of James Kew, a school I attended.  I asked her what prompted her to run for office.  She explained that back in 1992 the incumbent was proposing to resell confiscated guns and she wholeheartedly disagreed.  She put her “hat” in the ring and won.

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Since then she has been successful in revitalizing the playground at Centinela Park (now Edward Vincent Park), she has saved Inglewood taxpayers $2 million dollars annually by discovering a special property tax assessment to pay for police officers that where never hired, she has helped with the upgraded Marvin Engineering building using redevelopment dollars, and she famously votes against agenda items that are not in the best interest of Inglewood residents.

If you notice the above map of the district, you will notice a little strip of a piece off to the upper left, that is the section of District 2 that she is most concerned about spoiling her return to office.  This little sliver is located in the Ladera Heights section of Inglewood, where her opponent resides.  However, those residents frequent many of the local Inglewood eateries.  It was in Pico Seafood, a place Judy Dunlap was not familiar with, that I bumped into a District 2 resident.  As I do with everyone I come in contact with, I ask “…which district do you live in…and who did you vote for…”.  Many times the residents identify with her as either “the white lady” or “the lady who wears the hat” and I asked her, what do you want residents to think of when they hear your name?  She replied ,”I want them to remember me as a hard worker, one who fights for her constituents and one who will ask the hard questions on the issues”.  I forgot to ask her this hard question .

I think I stumped her a little when I asked her what accomplishments she was most proud of in the district.  She referred me to read her campaign materials.  I am shocked that with 20 years in service, her mailer only highlights the Marvin Engineering construction and the special assessment savings.  She states she supports jobs and the Madison Square Garden project, but what else has she got done?   Inglewood is relatively small but we also pay high sales taxes that forces people to shop in neighboring  Gardena or Hawthorne.

The topic then got back to the places she loved to eat.  She pointed out the Bayou Grille and Fabulous Burgers being her favorites.  She pointed out that a husband and wife run it.  That brought me to ask her about if she ate at Phat & Juicy on $1 taco Thursday’s?  I mentioned it too is family owned and operated and used to have locations in both Hawthorne and Baldwin-Crenshaw Malls.  Her response was “where is that again”?  I had to remind her its down the street from Fabulous Burgers and across the street from Smart & Final.  This led me to ask if she patronizes Bruno’s, Gumbo Shack, LAX Tacos, Pico Fish, M&M’s, Soul Food Kitchen or even the donut shop on Regent and Market St. that sells the best egg rolls on the plant and sadly, she didn’t know where any of these places where.  Maybe she remembers when Cooleys was on Market St?  Every kid who has ever went to either Crozier or Inglewood High School knows this place because you walk through the lot and get donuts on the way to school and egg rolls on the way home.  Maybe small businesses in her district would fare better if she actually visited and bought something from them?

Going back to when I entered Starbucks, here I was with an elected official, who represents this area for 20 years, and no one was greeting her? No one coming up to her congratulating her on her recent runoff? No staff offering her coffee or a lemonade?  I thought to myself…Judy Dunlap is out of touch with the Inglewood residents.  Sure you can vote on our behalf, but do you patronize any of the small businesses in Inglewood since you are publicly supportive?  It appears you don’t eat at some of the most popular food joints in the city let alone pass them by on your way to City Hall?  Although I live in district 4 I eat in food spots all over Inglewood, so surely I was disappointed when I heard her asking “where is that again”?

I went in to this interview with high hopes and left with more questions than when I got there.  Perhaps Ms. Dunlap’s constituents could care less if people in the community recognize her dressed down like an average resident.  Maybe her constituents don’t care that she has no real accomplishments in the city.  Maybe her constituents don’t care that she has “no comment” on the recent state takeover of IUSD, her former employer.  But guess who does care, that little sliver over in Ladera Heights does.  They are voting for the person they see and hear about, not the person they hear is always invisible from events and voting no.

It is my sincere hope that this runoff will be a wake up call to Ms. Dunlap that she does need to be more visible in the district and city as a whole.  She does need to speak to more than the neighbors on her parents street.  She does need to vote how her constitutents want, but keeping in mind her vote effects the entire city, not just district 2.

Her opponent has been highly visible at city sponsored events,  going so far as to stay and mingle and speak with the residents to hear what they have to say.  His neighbors know him very well.  Maybe that is a benefit he is receiving since there is a fellow with the same name running for Senate at the same time he is running for local office, but either way, Ms. Dunlap has enjoyed the comfort of having her base of support, hopefully they will continue to show support by voting for her on June 11th.

To volunteer on Ms. Dunlaps campaign, visit her website for more details.  For a more detailed list of district boundaries click here.

Community Review of Inglewood Political Forum by Darius Leevy, Politico (click here)

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One Response so far.

  1. […] needs to know who you are since you are voted at-large.  Based on my observations from my recent interview , she is clearly out of touch with the city.   Why do residents in district 2 continue to vote […]

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