by Raphael Bostic
Last week, the Bedrosian Center hosted former Los Angeles City Councilwoman and mayoral candidate Jan Perry as part of our Lunch with a Leader speaker series.
Perry once again impressed. I had seen her in action last December, when I moderated a mayoral candidate summit on affordable housing topics. At that event, Perry was knowledgeable, clear, and comfortable with the spotlight on her. She showed those same skills during our 90 minutes together with a small group of students and faculty.
When we met with Perry recently, she shared her observations on a wide range of subjects:
- On term limits – she very much dislikes them (not surprising) and fears that it is changing the makeup of the city council in ways that are leaving it with limited experience on things like economic development and local constituent service;
- On diversity in politics – beyond demographic diversity, we need more people to be willing to have a voice independent of the caucus (i.e., political diversity);
- On the public sector bureaucracy – we must be much pushier with the entrenched bureaucracy that isn’t interested in advancing policy, and she thinks monitoring and measuring output using things like performance dashboards will be an important way to accomplish this; and
- On building a team – surround yourself with smart people, and don’t view any tasks as beneath you, because when you do “grunt” work it makes clear that every task is important and will limit resentment when you ask others to do the same.
In closing the lunch, Jan offered 5 pieces of advice for the students to remember as they pursue public service:
- Stay close to the people you represent;
- Master your craft so that you know what you’re doing;
- Stick to your principles;
- Be willing to fight hard for what you believe is right; and
- Fulfill your commitments – always deliver on what you say you will do;
Looking at these, I think they are good pieces of advice for any profession.
I was very happy to have Perry as our kickoff lunch speaker. She set a strong tone, and definitely offered some food for thought. I came away with some interesting nuggets for sure.
And I am delighted to have her join the Bedrosian Center family as our newest Advisory Board member. It will be great working with her and I look forward to benefiting from her insights.
Jan, welcome to the team!!