2UrbanGirls has reached out to all candidates who are challenging Councilwoman Emma Sharif. Justin Blakely shares his plans for Compton District 4 and addresses concerns surrounding his $20k payment to be included on the April 16th ballot.
What should Compton residents know about you and why you are running for District 4 councilperson.
I have been disappointed with the city’s direction over the past 20 years as it relates to many things including the city’s infrastructure and lack of reliable public services. I care deeply about the City and want to take action to address a number of problems for the City’s residents.
What motivated you to run for this seat?
My parents play a pivotal role in motivating me. They are my role models. From my mom starting her 27 year teaching career in Compton to my father starting his law enforcement career as an officer for Compton Police Department and retiring from Compton School Police after 30 years. Combined, they have dedicated 40+ years to the City with real honor and pride. I want to make a real difference in our community just like they did. I want to give back. I owe Compton that much. Being born and raised in the City, I have recognized that we need to pay attention to the most vulnerable in our community, such as seniors, youth, homeless individuals and our veterans who continuously are ignored on a larger scale. I cannot allow my City and the residents to be neglected any longer.
Have you ever voted in a Compton election, prior to running for this seat?
I have been attending college for the last several years; I just finished college; I have not voted in the City during that time.
What issues are most important in your District AND the city overall?
The first priority is ensuring the availability and use of funds to repave all the streets in Compton including District 4. It is ridiculous that over the past 25 years we have yet to see any significant improvement to our streets, but our taxes are steadily rising. Our streets and sidewalks need to be cleaned of all trash and litter, street lights need to be fixed and our trees need to be trimmed. These are just the basics. We need more funding for our youth programs– whether we are referring to after school programs, arts for our creative scholars and more work development programs and job creation in Compton so our new generation of leaders have the best opportunities to succeed. We need to address our public safety concerns as well. Residents shouldn’t feel uneasy about their children playing outside the house or in the park.
Have you opened a campaign account to raise funds?
No. I was only rightfully certified as a candidate on Tuesday, February 19th. I was arbitrarily and unlawfully not allowed to be on the ballot by the City Clerk. I was forced to file a lawsuit against the City Clerk to protect my First Amendment right to have basic access to the ballot – Judge Chalfant of the Los Angeles Superior Court agreed that I was right and ordered the City Clerk and the County to place my name on the ballot, as they should have in the first place – I won. The Judge’s ruling on the merits was made on February 15 and, even though I had won, was contingent that I pay $21,000 to pay for additional costs that would be incurred to immediately change the ballot and add my name. Judge Chalfant ordered both parties to come back on Tuesday, February 19th to give the final ruling and so the County could receive payment. I was then added to the ballot and the City Clerk was required then to document that I was a qualified candidate. Now that I am a candidate I am awaiting my committee ID number.
Residents are questioning your paying $20k, with 22 money orders to run. Why wasn’t this paid from your official campaign account?
I paid 21 money orders because I was only given the final amount of what I would have to pay in the late afternoon of Friday, February 15th. I was instructed at that time that I could only pay by cashier’s check or money order. Monday, February 18th was President’s Day which restricted me to only being able to use money orders; I needed to have the payment by 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday. Money orders generally do not exceed $1,000. It was not a campaign expenditure because I was not yet officially been recognized as a candidate until after I complied with the Court’s order that I pay these costs. Rather, it was a legal/personal expenditure. I have asked the FPPC for advice on whether, under these unusual circumstances, I have any disclosure obligations for this expenditure; I have yet to receive an answer.
You have campaign materials being passed to residents without the required FPPC number. Why is that?
That is false. According to Compton City Clerk’s issued Candidate’s Manual that I received, on page 14 under the section “Mass Mailing” (See attached), it states “Per the Fair Political Practices Commission, the following information is not required to be included in the sender ID: Committee’s identification number, name of treasurer or printer, the words “paid for by.” Furthermore, the Candidate Manual states “Identification is not required under the Political Reform Act on these campaign items: Newspapers, television or radio ads, campaign materials that are not sent through the mail such as handbills, bumper stickers, and door hangers.”
Finally, what should residents expect from you if you are elected?
The residents can expect honest, ethical, and responsible service and representation.