[City Council Elections] Candidate Profile: Luis Montoya

By Allison Ferraro

MID-CITY—I first met Luis Montoya was Dec. 4th, information pills 2010 the day my family bought our Christmas tree and the day of the annual USC versus UCLA football game.

Montoya’s family owns the seasonal Christmas tree lot at Crenshaw and Pico boulevards. After my family picked a nice Noble Fir, we went to check out.

Montoya, clad in a UCLA Bruins t-shirt, handled our transaction. As a Trojan fan, I made a snide remark about his Bruin affiliation. We exchanged bragging rights and then before I could tell him I own and edit two newspapers he told me he hopes to run against incumbent Herb Wesson for his Los Angeles City Council seat (CD10).

Montoya, 25, qualified later in December for the March ballot after collecting the prerequisite 500 signatures. Since then, he said, he’s been going door to door to garner support for his campaign, currently funded by only $300 out of his pocket.

“Hey. I am Louis,” he said he tells those who open their doors. “And I am your neighbor next door. I am running for city council.”

With no prior political experience, he knows it’s a long shot to beat Wesson, who has held the office since 2005.

“Do I have a chance?” he said. “Why not? I just want to go out there and get noticed and hopefully give Wesson a run for his money.”

Montoya said he feels that Wesson has been off the mark in his voting record regarding issues that affect his district and the city.

“I have been looking over Wesson’s [city council] voting records,” he said, “and what he has been doing has not benefited our community.”

Of note, Montoya said that Wesson abstained in December on how public notices of city business are posted.  He also claimed he has reviewed contributions to Wesson’s campaigns and that “a proportional amount are from developers. He has unfortunately lost his focus.”

He also said that even though Wesson has brought in new development to the area, “for whatever reason,” he said, “those developments have not calculated into jobs for our community,” and especially a lack of quality jobs, he said. He is also concerned there is no institute for higher learning in the CD10 area.

Montoya graduated from Los Angeles High School in 2003, spent two years at the California State University Northridge and then transferred to UCLA where he graduated in 2007 with a degree in political science, specializing in American government.

UCLA went on to hire him as a program manager with the university’s Anderson School of Management. He left the position last May to focus on an unsuccessful congressional bid.

“I always wanted to jump into politics,” he said.

More locally, he said he is also concerned about the city’s current budget crisis and feels city offices are over staffed.

“When the city is running at a deficit and you have the amount of staffers [city councilmembers] have, it’s completely unaccounted for. There is one city council member,” he said, “that has 25 staffers. It’s ridiculous.

If elected, Montoya said he wants to first address the city’s budget issues; try to make Los Angeles a more business-friendly place and take a long-term look at the city’s aging infrastructure.

“I am willing to face strong issues,” he said, “and make some unpopular choices, like cutting city services, but we have to do it for the betterment of our entire community.”

In his free time, Montoya said he is a live music enthusiast—he said he loves the Whisky A Go-Go—and he is a self described “astronomy geek.”

But right now, his only view is on Wesson.

“You need to lead by example,” he said. “It’s an idealistic goal of mine to be forthcoming and direct with my constituents as much as I can and you don’t see that with Herb Wesson.”

Next month we profile the other candidates: Andrew Kim,

Althea Rae Shaw, Austin

Dragon and Chris Brown.

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