"I have a vested interest here. I mean, my family lives here, my kids go to school here,” said Nuño. “That matters. I think those things are what’s really going to make the bigger impact.”
Jorge Nuño is running to represent Council District 9 in South Los Angeles
On March 7, District 9 residents will vote either Adriana Cabrera, Jorge Nuño or Curren D. Price, Jr. into the Los Angeles City Council. Intersections South LA will bring you profiles of each candidate in the race.
In the “Big House,” located on East 35th Street in South Los Angeles, Jorge Nuño works diligently to raise awareness for his city council campaign. As a native to the 9th district, Nuño thought there could be no better candidate than someone indigenous to the community.
Nuño is running to represent Council District 9, a region spanning from Olympic Boulevard in the north down to 95th street in the south. (View a map of the area provided by the City of Los Angeles).
“I have a vested interest here. I mean, my family lives here, my kids go to school here,” said Nuño. “That matters. I think those things are what’s really going to make the bigger impact.”
When Nuño’s graphic design career took off, he made the bold choice to keep his offices in South LA. He moved into the Big House, a renovated craftsman home where he now runs youth development nonprofit Nuevo South, his advertising agency, and his campaign for city councilman.
So why didn’t he leave? Nuño said he was never drawn to the lights and glitter of the Hollywood market. Instead, he was convinced by a local college, the University of Southern California.
“You don’t judge USC by it’s location, but by the work that comes out of there, by the people there,” said Nuño. “So that gave me that peace of mind, and that was the tipping point.”
Nuño decided if USC could maintain a reputable reputation, so could South LA and his agency.
This same mindset serves as the foundation under Nuño’s campaign platform. Nuño said he plans to focus on two key areas in South LA: homelessness and beautification. Nuño believes prioritizing these issues will lead to something greater.
“When I think of beautification, I also think of community pride,” said Nuño. “I want to bring that back. I want to really kind of hone in on that and build that out for my community; I think it’s needed.”
Intersections South LA asked community members to send in their questions for District 9 Candidates. Here’s how Jorge Nuño answered:
(The following questions and answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.)
What are some community based initiatives (requiring the involvement of residents through a grassroots model) you would implement to help improve the quality of life of our community?
— Evelyn, 28, social worker
JN: I think there are two things I would like to do with that. On the homelessness, what I thought about is, ‘Why don’t we identify every neighborhood where there is a certain amount of homeless, identify homeless ambassadors (community ambassadors) in those neighborhoods to identify those homeless people and really kind of create them to be case managers?’ So, the money that we’re going to invest will be invested in people that have vested interests in those neighborhoods. We can train them and work with the homeless to get them out of homelessness. So instead of bringing the money and going to an organization hiring people from the outside to come into our neighborhood, let’s go directly to neighborhoods and identify these stakeholders in those communities. Let’s work with them, hire them so they can work with the homeless people, and that creates not only employment but you also get people with invested interest in solving this problem.
The beautification piece of my platform is really kind of getting back to the basic of community pride from a place of maybe block clubs where each neighborhood takes control and you empower those communities, so that they can be the transformation they want to see. So that way, my office as a councilman can work with them closely but I think over the years of what I’ve heard from talking to my community members is that they just don’t believe in the council office. They don’t respond fast enough, or they don’t get back to you, so to me, I need to repair that relationship. Working with those neighborhoods, and their community stakeholders, building their faith in my office and the community in itself; I think is going to be very critical.
What are the principles of (1) your economic development plan and (2) your plan to address the housing needs of local residents of ALL income levels?
— Anthony, 28, Associate
JN: On my platform for economics, there are two things: really working with the small businesses and entrepreneurship. So there is an abandoned MTA building on the Wetlands Park on 54th and Abalone: 80,000 square feet of an abandoned building. Well, I have a concept to convert that space into a small business and entrepreneur incubator, the biggest incubator in the city of Los Angeles. We could do it in two stories: we might have 160,000 square feet of sound stages, classrooms, meeting rooms, co-working spaces, a wellness center, and even a food market. We can collaborate with USC and have workshops there as well. This is going to be a place where you walk in and your ideas can get incubated, so I am thinking in a very social entrepreneur-small business space. But let’s also work with industries that are very close to us that we don’t have a good pipeline. So we’re looking at the entertainment industry, construction industry, tech industry, medical industry, automotive industry, even the nonprofit world. So I think if we really create pipelines from our communities and also maybe work with the high schools. We need to stop saying the only way to have a career is to go to a four-year college. No, there are four-year colleges, there’s careers, there’s trades, there’s entrepreneurship. So I think we need to really think of different avenues for people to succeed.
As far as the housing portion, LA is facing a housing crisis and South LA is very vulnerable because we’re about 79% renters in this community, so we need to really stabilize the housing market here. We need to work with the state, the federal, the county, the city, to create progressive policies that stabilize our housing from venting and more affordable housing. But more importantly, how do you increase home ownership? Where are the programs that we can kind of implement now that can increase homeownership? We have to have short-term goals and long-term goals. So I think we have what you see right now as a result of poor public policy in different sectors.
Our community is policed heavily by LAPD. How do you plan to finance increased police presence in our neighborhoods? Is that one of your goals?
— Luis Lopez, 31, Warehouse manager
JN: When I think of safe communities, I don’t equate it with more police. I plan to invest more in youth development like after school programs, sports leagues and youth employment. We need to invest in our youth not more police. More police has created more problems in community in the past and has gotten us nowhere. Thirty-three percent of our district is under 18 but they will be 100 percent of our future. That’s the investment I would like to see.
What are you going to do improve the conditions of the area such as clean alleys, trash on street, and homelessness?
— Lona Diggs, 73, retired
JN: Well I think that will go to my two platform pieces: homelessness and beautification. On homelessness, how do we localize that effort with stakeholders from this community? Because we know the funding is coming, but if we bring that money into the system that is in place right now in this community, from the political and the systematic problem that we have, that will never get to the community. So there needs to be political reform from an organizational point of view so that we can really tackle the homeless issue and get these young people who have a lot of great ideas into being part of the solution versus continuing working with the old established organization. I think we have to have a reform in that area.
I think that at the end of the day it’s really about working together with the community. Like I mentioned earlier, if the community does not believe in your local councilman and your local government, then they stop caring. I think we have to revisit those thoughts and really kind of re-energize ourselves and get our community involved in beautification. I think it’s a matter of leadership in place that they’re going to say, ‘You know what, I believe in this new leadership, let’s give it a try.’ But if we keep bringing in the political establishment, nothing is going to change. It’s not designed to benefit us.
What is your vision for South Central LA? As a citizen of South LA of 30 years I am concerned of what our future will look like.
— Pablo, 64, retired
JN: My vision for South L.A. is really a community that’s a place of opportunity. I think we need to reimagine how we see our community and make it a place where you can raise your family. You know, a place where we can send our kids to school and don’t have to travel miles away to find a good school. We should be able to have a good school in our own community, feel safe in our own community. We should be running our own parks. So to me, it’s improving the quality of life in our community in a very tangible way but also investing in the future leaders of this community.
Why can’t I walk or ride my bike without being messed with in South LA?
— Omar Gonzalez, 29, Entrepreneur
JN: I think the reason you feel unsafe walking in this community is because you have a reason to feel unsafe. Crime has increased, so if you think about it, has anything changed in the last few years? No, you have a legitimate concern. I think, again, we need to invest in young people, and after-school programs. You know, hire local youth to create jobs. There is a youth development organization that mentions investing law enforcement officials into young people. We could hire about 10,000 people every year, create about 30–40 youth centers, hire enough staff to staff all these youth centers. We need to start investing in our young people. Again, these are short-term goals and long-term goals. My dad has this thing, “find that cholo a job and trust me, he won’t be a cholo.” We have to go really basic, but you need leadership that can make aggressive decisions that way. Yes, some people may lose by having a safe community, but you know, I’m tired of losing our young people.
As a Guatemalan immigrant I fear Donald Trump. How will you represent the immigrant community at City Hall against Donald Trump?
— Luis Lopez, 31, Warehouse manager
JN: I would defend my community. There are a lot of undocumented immigrants in my community, so it’s going to be very important that I stand behind my community, and make the city of Los Angeles a sanctuary city, because it’s not right now. It has a facade of it, but our mayor just recently said it’s not a sanctuary city. Well, we need to make it a sanctuary city. You know the political climate requires that, and I think we should demand that we become a sanctuary city to protect our community. And mine is the most vulnerable of all districts, so I’m going to stand by them and that means making this city a sanctuary city and with everything that comes with it. From protecting from the law enforcement to making sure we have legal aid to empowering our local community to not be fearful. But we need to be out there voicing our concerns and making sure we’re not being terrorized.