State Senator Henry Stern took a break from his own campaign for Los Angeles County Supervisor to join West Hollywood Mayor Lauren Meister this past Sunday at Micky’s.
Understated and affable the candidate talked to many members of the crowd. As Meister finished she asked Henry Stern if he would like to say a few words. Below is the text of Henry Stern’s remarks.
Morning, Hi, I’m Henry. I’m currently a Senator out in the valley in the Santa Monica mountains out to Malibu and all the way to Santa Clarita and Simi Valley. You might may wonder why I’m here with you this morning in West Hollywood. I’m here backing up Mayor Meister and standing up for some kind of reasonable growing center in West Hollywood; where people can feel safe, to just look after their neighborhood, and not have to feel guilty about it or sheepish in your politics, The reason I’m here is because I think at a local level we need to have your back and I don’t think we’ve been doing that right now.
I think in the State of California and hopefully Los Angeles County where I’m running for the Board of Supervisors, if you had support from LA County, if when you wanted a mobile psychiatric team to be here, when you need them, and you don’t want to call 9-1-1 if someone’s having a mental health episode on your doorstep of your apartment or your business. We don’t want to approach that with law enforcement but have no choice right now.
Getting to know the Mayor (Meister) and all the issues you’ve got, you have no one to call. The notion of restoring Public Safety being at odds with abundant care for people on the street I think is a false choice. I think this is not a republican or a democrat issue. I don’t think it’s about whether you’re liberal or conservative. It’s just whether you think that care first is not at odds with housing first and I think thats what we need to change in LA. I think we can be caring and work on housing at the same time.
So I’m a senator in Sacramento right now, and I’ve been scrutinizing the books of LA and we ran an audit on LA County’s homelessness programs. We found a billion dollars of your money sitting there unspent. We wondered why? Why this impasse, why isn’t that money moving? Somehow it was seen that putting a permanent mobile psychiatric unit in West Hollywood —or having care workers go out on the streets and deal with people’s addiction crisis when they’re on fentanyl or they’re dealing with methamphetamines and not doing that in a law enforcement way but in a caring way. Where you have field psych techs and public health nurses that was being bottlenecked based on dogma that says until you have permanent supportive housing unit for that person you can’t take care of them and prevent them from dying. I think that’s a false choice. I think that needs to change.
I’m an environmental attorney by trade. I always thought of myself as a progressive. I’m not very interested in building a bunch of new jails and trying to lock everybody up that doesn’t agree with me. But I think we need to get back to a more reasonable place in Los Angeles where we’re not always trying to perform for some political stage. It’s not about getting on CNN or trying to keep up with some trend- this is not about trend. Politics when it gets trendy it gets dangerous. Politics when it’s people first and your community first I think is humble and caring and decent and apolitical in a way that I just think people are hungry for in l.A right now.
So you know I’m running for a seat that covers this community but Santa Monica all the way out to you know Deep Deep valley, Northridge and Chatsworth. So if you know anybody who still believes in change and still believes in progress but doesn’t feel the need to grandstand about it —but in fact just deliver and dig in— I hope you’ll consider voting for me.
And I hope you’re a little less lonely in the work you’ve been doing Lauren because it’s not fair. And I think people need to stand up and say you don’t need to cut 3.6 million dollars out of your sheriff’s budget to take care of a homelessness team. We have a hundred billion dollar surplus in the State of California.
Let’s do both. Why can’t we do both. That to me is what’s at stake here. Let’s go do both! [Applause]