Charity Chandler-Cole is the business. Growing up Charity experienced a troubled childhood due to her mother’s illness. She persevered and became a loving wife and mother to five children. Somehow she has made time to pursue political office, despite the demands of being a wife, mother and contract administrator with the AIDS Health Foundation. I got to know Charity through the Los Angeles African-American Public Policy Institute’s (LAAAWPPI) 2016 session. She is compassionate, persistent and an exemplary role model to our youth. 2 Urban Girls is proud to endorse her for Gardena city council.
What do you see as the biggest issues in the city of Gardena?
The biggest issues I see currently in Gardena are lack of community services or knowledge of community services that we do have, lack of interest and participation from residents age 50 and under, lack of quality businesses, and our parks and community centers need upgrading.
How would you address these issues?
Community services: I would love to work with our Human Services Department to extend the reach of programs and enhance/expand on programs that are in place, in addition to adding services that address health and wellness, mental health, education for all ages, domestic violence response support, foster youth support, affordable housing and wrap around counseling services.
We have to meet young adults where they are. This means having civic engagement workshops, town halls and forums at times that are convenient for students and working adults and reaching out to Residents digitally by utilizing social media, mailers, sms messaging, and other outlets.
Quality businesses: Attracting viable and sustainable businesses by partnering with Los Angeles County (the county we fall in) and surrounding cities to assist in the investment of Gardena. We also need to position Gardena to be ready for the new Rams stadium so that as folks come to town they will have hotel, eating and shopping accommodations right here in Gardena.
Upgrading parks and community centers: Parks and community centers are hubs in Gardena and are visited by thousands of people from Gardena and other surrounding cities. Our parks need extra love and attention and money needs to be invested in renewing our parks and getting new equipment, updating our gyms and pool and investing in landscaping to make our parks more attractive and welcoming.
What prompted you to run this election cycle?
I have a true passion and desire to help people and I do a lot of advocacy on the state level to respond to various social justice issues. Gardena is our home, and it makes sense to take the talent, passion and knowledge I have to positively impact the community I live in. The timing for me came at a time when I was finally finished with school (undergrad and grad school), established a successful career, my family is complete and I am ready for the next step in my life which is being a true public servant here at home. I want Gardena to be the best it can be for my children and all children in our community.
Have you familiarized yourself with the city finances and where the money comes from? If yes, what areas do you see the city being able to capture more revenue? What revenue would you see worth exploring?
Yes, the majority of our revenue comes from sales and use tax followed by gross revenue fees from our two card clubs. Here’s the thing, when it comes to capturing more revenue, residents don’t like new fees or higher taxes, but the reality is that in order to invest in the city we need to find ways to progressively generate revenue outside of, or in addition to what is already in place. As a council member, I will work to connect revenue directly to services and I think it is important to make the city budgeting process as transparent as possible in order to have community support. I would personally like to explore “Pay As You Throw” (PAYT), which is a system that essentially pays for the cost of collecting and disposing of solid waste and actually helps the environment through waste reduction. Residents would simply pay a variable rate based on how much garbage they dispose of, thus freeing up funds for other city priorities such as community services or enhancing our streets or parks, for example.
With the NFL Coming in the LA region, how can the city of Gardena position themselves to reap economic benefits from its return?
Great question and this is something I am really excited about and see great potential for our city. Gardena has a lot of blighted land that can be utilized for hotels, eateries, and shopping. Having these amenities and businesses will generate revenue through an increase in our sales and use tax, property taxes and revenue fees derived from these businesses as well as transient occupancy taxes from visitors staying in hotels. With the stadium being a mere 15 minutes or so away, we have a great opportunity to service people and tourists that will be in town for games, as well as positively impact local employment through the many jobs that will be created as a result of having new businesses. In order to do that however, we need to take action now and start investing in our infrastructure so that folks will have a desire to come here. We currently don’t have much to offer and my goal would be to change that immediately.
If you had a magic wand and could change anything in the city of Gardena, what would it be and why?
As a mother of 5 bustling children, I would beautify and enhance our parks. Our parks are not only visited by thousands of people every year, both residents and nonresidents, but they are safe havens for our children, gathering spots for different community groups and sports activities and provide a space for parents to safely enjoy and play with their children. Our parks could use a face lift with newer equipment, cleaner, more innovative gyms and updated recreation centers.
Election is Tuesday, March 7th.